Toward the end of the Sakuntala, the most famous of the three surviving plays by Kalidasa—the poet usually considered the finest in ancient India—the hero Dushyanta offers this poignant self-analysis:
Like someone staring at an elephant who says, “There is no elephant here,” and who then, as it moves away, feels a certain doubt and later, seeing its footprints, is certain: “An elephant has been here”— such are the subtle workings of my mind.
Have you experienced reader’s block? It’s just a different world. I read all the time; I can’t stop reading. It might apply to my assistant, but she is on holiday, so she is probably reading like mad. Could you recommend a book to get people reading again? Oh God, I don’t read novels! Why do people think that reading a book means reading a fucking novel? You finish reading the book and you think “Well, that’s over. There’s four hours down the drain.” At least in non-fiction you might pick up some information you can trust. My whole world is built out of books, but they aren’t Booker prize-winners, which I frankly always think are overrated. Like lots of people who end up reading stuff they don’t want to read, what I pick up is mainly dictated by what’s in the airport bookshop, which is a very depressing cross-section. I think some people are reading a whole lot more that they need to be. I think all these children banging themselves on the head with Harry Potter would be better off doing almost anything else. Why are we so sanctimonious and moralistic about reading?