We knew we shouldn’t have bothered torturing ourselves through a reading of Ulysses! N+1 magazine is publishing a pamphlet for ungraduates titled What We Should Have Known: Two Discussions. The topic, as Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed.com explains, is the relationship between education and regret – how each one creates the conditions for the other.
The books you read at a certain age can put you on the wrong path, even though you don’t recognize it at the time. You are too naively ambitious to get much out of them — or too naive, perhaps, not that it makes much difference either way. And by the time you realize what you should have read, it’s too late. You would understand things differently, and probably better, had you made different choices. You would be a different person. Instead, you wasted a lot of time. (I know I did. There are nights when I recall all the time spent on the literary criticism of J. Hillis Miller and weep softly to myself.)