ZYTARUK: My book, my Kilimanjaro

Column writer shares sage platitudes on getting the job done, eventually

So let it be written…

Do you have a book collecting dust on your night table?

I do. It’s called Concluding Unscientific Postscript, and was published by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard in 1846, translated into English in 1941, and the latter version is what I’m reading. Sometimes.

I have the 550-page book dog-earred at page 282. It was on the reading list of a university course I was enrolled in, and considering I got my BA in 1989, I may well be approaching a world record for the longest time it’s taken anyone to read a book. And I’m only a little ways over half-way through. It works out to about 40 days per 380 words read, I think.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s very interesting. It’s just that it’s such dense reading that, once I make it through a page and a half or so, I’m riding the snooze balloon to dreamland.

The idea here is, never give up. Finish what you started.

Sure, I’m entirely blowing things out of proportion by suggesting this, but I consider my encounter with this book to be my own personal Kilimanjaro, a mountain in Tanzania that I will certainly never climb. But I will conquer Concluding Unscientific Postscript one day, and I will use Kilimanjaro as, I think, a fine metaphor for my struggle with finishing this book. Having never been to Kilimanjaro, or Africa for that matter, I might be wrong but it’s my understanding that the ascent to the summit of this world-class mountain doesn’t involve ropes and spikes, but rather an eternal slog uphill.

Here’s a random excerpt: “When the question of truth is raised in an objective manner, reflection is directed objectively to the truth, as an object to which the knower is related. Reflection is not focussed upon the relationship, however, but upon the question of whether it is the truth to which the knower is related. If only the object to which he is related is the truth, the subject is accounted to be in the truth…”

And, wait for it, Boom — snooze balloon. Right? If you’re wanting to catch some quick winks, it’s very effective. Like watching golf on television, televised legislative assembly debates, or darts tournaments. Yawn.

Still, I won’t give up on Kierkegaard. Some might call it being stubborn, but I like to think of it in terms of celebrating my indomitable spirit. Ahem.

Yes, it’s important to never give up. Like Captain Nesmith says in Galaxy Quest, “Never give up — never surrender.” Incidentally, Churchill said something to that effect, too.

And I’ll share another little nugget of wisdom with you: Better late than never.

Also, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Therefore, once I’ve finished reading Kierkegaard’s book, next in line is Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. That’s another book I should have read in university, but only had time to skim.

Better late than never, right? And it’s only 798 pages, too. Wish me luck.

So let it be done.