On Sunday I finally started reading a book I’ve been meaning to get to for years: Gödel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter.
I’ve read other work by Hofstadter, so I know he’s a good author. And GEB itself has been heaped with praise, not the least of which was the Pulitzer Prize. I have no doubt I’ll enjoy it immensely.
So why have I waited so long to get started?
Well, GEB is…intimidating.
Books basically fall into two categories: they either will, or won’t, kill a small dog if they fall from a shelf. GEB belongs to the former camp. It’s big.
Moreover, it’s a dense, intellectual book, an intense and incredibly involved analysis of the idea of “strange loops” – hierarchies that turn back on themselves – wherever they appear, be it music, art, philosophy, or mathematics. The ultimate goal of the book, in fact, is to use this “strange loop” concept to explain consciousness itself.
So, yeah. It’s right up my alley. But I’ve been putting it off for a while.
But then I read The Myth of Sisyphus, and all that talk about seizing control of your life got me thinking: why not start GEB now? Who cares if it’s long and a bit scary? Do it!
So I did it. I started.
We’ll see how far I get.
Have you ever been intimidated by a book’s reputation? Did you ever get around to reading it?