Lawyers and Literature
James R. Elkins

Exercise 1-2 | Enemies of Reading

Will Barrett, the protagonist in Walker Percy's novel, The Second Coming says: "Enemies . . . often tell the truth. And these days enemies, honest enemies, are few and far between. Nobody says anything unpleasant. Enemies will often tell you unsuspected truths about yourself, just as a photograph or a double mirror will show your snoutish nose." [Will Barrett, The Second Coming 177 (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1980)]. When we forget the name of an enemy, we fight phantoms, shadow-box with the unnamed. Readers face enemies of reading, and when they do, they should be named. We are talking here about enemies as Will Barrett does in The Second Coming, when he says: "Ha, there is a secret after all. . . . But to know the secret answer, you must first know the secret question. The question is, who is the enemy? Not to know the name of the enemy is already to have been killed by him." [271]

Can you identify the enemies that impede your reading?

How do these enemies make their appearance?

What kind of power or strength do they have?

How do you defend against them?

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