Can You Ever Go Back?

Commentator Andrei Codrescu asks if there's any use in re-reading books you once read, watching movies again, or listening to music you loved at an earlier age.

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If you are up for a challenge, our commentator Andrei Codrescu has an idea for you.

ANDREI CODRESCU: It is a project. Re-read everything you've ever read, look again at all the art works that once you had strong opinions about, listen again to the music that has such an essential meaning back when all the questions are driven, all answers are poetic. See again all the movies that once made an impression on you. Of course, you'd have to have another life just about the size of the one you already had to do such a thing.

You barely have time to re-read a few snippets from books now and then and that's only because you recommended them to somebody and want to make sure that you remember it right.

So let's face it. You'll never again read the books that formed your young intellect. You'll never see again the art that was so important to you back then. The weight of the music you once worshipped has evaporated like an old perfume bottle. You won't have time to review the movies that made you feel so smart even if they do show up now and then on the old movie channel.

Besides, even if you sat out to undertake such a project, another difficulty looms. You barely remember those books and their authors, those artists, those musicians, those actors and directors.

Anyway, why bother? Those things did their job and shaped you and you'll never escape them.

As to what kind of thing this is? It's called a fugue. You run away as many times as you can from your sources until all they bring you back up in stronger and stronger chains. The art of the fugue, once practiced by the Baroque masters, is all the rage today in art, politics, style, films. Drop whatever you're doing and run. But look, you can't get out of the frame. You're always inside a new world in your old mind, and then not displeased that everything you thought you knew was wrong is wrong. But you already knew that, didn't you?

BLOCK: Andrei Codrescu teaches English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

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