The most freeing revelation you can make about yourself is that you possess more than multiple animating selves. And that each ‘self’ breathes and communicates out of shells that exist in the form of memories, ideas, and experiences. Italo Calvino writes that “the more time we save, the more we’ll be able to lose.” And in the sphere of such acute awareness, literature - which is eternally wedded to self-exploration - dilutes, quickens, multiplies, and becomes more transparent and more exact. Calvino explores and weaves together the threads of literature not just for the reader but for the necessities by which a reader is defined. The necessities are innumerable; some read for pleasure, for creativity, ambition, sensibility, and good judgment. The common denominator, Calvino writes, is “an existential function. To search for lightness as a reaction to the weight of living.” Calvino is simply riding the waves of literature. His words, his thoughts, his memories, the essence of his stories that are so deeply rooted in scientific wonder, mathematics, imagination, and fantasy; all coalesce in this beautifully-moving and vivid book of memos. Under each inscription, you’ll sense deep stillness and gratitude. Something that will be inscribed in my memory as an ode to the essential value of reading and literature. Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, and Multiplicity - each carry and cradle literature in its palms. And it is from this soil that literature blossoms. Calvino defends the sanctity of the novel and how it equates to the self and the discovery of personal truth. He ends by asking a simple but infinite question: “What if it were possible for a work to be conceived beyond the self, a work that allowed us to escape the limited perspective of the individual ego, not only in order to enter other similar selves but to give voice to that which cannot speak - the bird perched on the gutter, the tree in spring and the tree in autumn, stone, cement, plastic… Wasn’t this, perhaps, where Ovid was going when he described the continuity of forms, where Lucretius was going when he identified himself with the nature that all things have in common?”
In the meandering course of life, you need a book like A Room of One’s Own to ground you. The book reflects a lifelong yearning, to tirelessly be, to consider the self as an eternally shifting dimension, which comes together in the form of strength, conviction, and knowledge. This book contains the spirit of spirit itself. From beginning to end, it unshackles the imperfections of perfection. The human mind, Woolf writes, must realize its masculine and feminine characteristics. This is what sets the foundation of all human experience. Only then is the being and becoming of a self primitive. Since its inception, a novelist is so absorbed in one’s own sex that it overwhelmingly devours one’s words and actions. That’s when ‘I’ becomes “a convenient term for somebody who has no real being.” This ‘I’ in a self is also what defines a person in “the relation of stone to stone.” It’s lacking in emotion and truth.
Woolf urges you to map your inner and outer world in “the relation of human being to human being.” This activates in each of us a beauty and familiarity that is profound and indispensable. Read A Room of One’s Own for its stunning wisdom and honesty. It’s for the androgynous mind. The mind that, in its every crease, has an unfathomable depth. The mind that shares in the common language that Virginia Woolf so contemplatively inhabits. Her words, her stream of consciousness is, in its very being, a stroke of genius.