"Movies are made out of darkness as well as light; it is the surpassingly brief intervals of darkness between each luminous still image that makes it possible to assemble the many images into one moving picture. Without that darkness, there would only be a blur. Which is to say, that a long movie consists of an hour or an hour of pure darkness that goes unseen. If you could add up all the darkness, you would find the audience in the theater gazing together in a deep imaginative night. It is the terra incognita of film, the dark continent on every map. In a similar way, a runner’s every step is a leap, so that for a moment he or she is entirely off the ground.For those brief instants, shadows no longer spill out from their feet, like leaks, but hover below them like doubles, as they do with birds, whose shadows crawl below them, caressing the surface of the earth, growing and shrinking as their makers move nearer or farther from that surface. For my friends who run long distances, these tiny fragments of levitation add up to something considerable; by their own power they hover above the earth for many minutes, perhaps some significant portion of an hour for the hundred-mile races. We fly; we dream in darkness; we devour heaven in bites too small to be measured."
Though I should say that I’m often not a reader of books from one end to the other but a rover, as a result of more than half a lifetime of doing research in books, where you’re there not just for the pleasure (though there is often considerable pleasure) but to find out some particular thing. Also I get interrupted a lot, and misplace books in this house of books, and so one way or another I’m usually reading about a dozen books at a time.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, free has the same Indo-European root as the Sanskrit word priya, which means “beloved” or “dear.” If you think of etymology as a family tree, the dictionary says that most descendants of that ancient ancestor describe affection, and only the Germanic and Celtic Branches describe liberty. The scholars say that the word may hark back to an era when a household consisted of the free people who were members of the extended family and the unfree ones who were slaves and servants. Family members had more rights than slaves and servants, so even though “free” in the United States is often seen as meaning one who has no ties, it was once the other way around. Which is another way of saying that freedom has less to do with that Lynyrd Skynyrd “Freebird” sense of the word … and more to do with the idea of agency.