The summer before I went off to college, a letter came asking that I read Arthur Koestler’s recent book The Act of Creation. A long book, essentially a philosophical discourse on the root of creativity, totally confused me. Today, looking over a description of the text, I can see why. I had no experience reading philosophy, had almost no background in abstract thinking, didn’t think of myself as a particularly creative person, and was used to sentences I could absorb with one reading. Koestler’s book and I could not find a place to connect. I went off the college concerned about what would be asked of me regarding the book.
The book was never mentioned again. To this day I have no idea what purpose was to have been served by having the entire incoming class read the volume. I know that the effect it had on me was one of total intimidation. If I couldn’t understand the first book they were asking me to read, how would I ever succeed at the University? I hope that was not the intention.
At any rate, no book during the subsequent four years of college ever confounded me the way Koestler’s book did. Thank goodness.