The Dalgliesh Point - A Mystery? ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Dalgliesh Point - A Mystery?

Dalgliesh: a cure for mental overload?Each semester, I delay the inevitable for as long as possible. With the help of coffee, harsh discipline, and my conscience, I force myself to devote the lion's share of my attention to required texts. I plow through 300+ page manuals without pictures. I scan databases for articles on ancient Philippi, pastoral burnout, and other fairly obscure intersections on the spiritual journey. And then, like Hoover dam imploding, my self-control collapses. The old addictions flood in, carrying all before them.

There is a clinical term for this point in the semester - the moment when a spiritual-literary weakness quietly appears, then explodes into the spotlight and dominates my life. This instant is known as the Dalgliesh Point.

I reached this semester's Dalgliesh Point on Saturday night. After a day spent searching academic databases, reading articles, and assimilating data into a paper, I felt the wild, primal urge arising in me. For as long as I could, I beat it down. But I knew it would only be a matter of time... Once one senses the proximity of the Dalgliesh Point, a total breakdown is imminent.

And sure enough. Around 11 p.m., I pulled my latest P.D. James mystery off the shelf and began to feverishly cram it down. Before I went to bed, I had reached page 150. But that was 48 hours ago. As I write, the harrowing conclusion to The Black Tower is more than in view - it is just pages away, and soon to be unveiled. Another Adam Dalgliesh book review will quickly follow.

At times, I've wondered out loud what causes me to compulsively read Adam Dalgliesh mysteries when my mental life is about to boil over. One obvious answer is the lovely symmetry of the cases. In the face of "mysterious" dysfunction and darkness, order is inexorably restored. Entering such a story is cathartic. And tackling an array of fresh, exotic details, vigorously forming syllogisms about vivid hypothetical characters, pitting my wits against P.D. James (and losing every time) - it's so frivolously renewing.

I cross the Dalgliesh point and feel once again that there is life beyond academics.

Filed in:

Like what you read? Don't forget to bookmark this post or subscribe to the feed.


Kibs said...

I understand completly what you went through. I pick up childrens novels. Like the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings Trilogy and my hated yet loved Harry Potter.

I also would like to introduce you to my blog:


Camille said...

In times of stress I unwind with a little Blackford Oakes mystery. Which reminds me I am overdue. William F Buckley has quite the plethora of fabulous words to boot.

HolyInheritance said...

The book I am most "driven" to read is "A Course in Miracles". It
just takes me out of this world all together!

Ariel said...

Thanks for the empathy, guys. If you're going to break the rules, it's good to have company. ;)

The downside is that I'll be tempted to take a look at the new (to me) authors you mention...that might just be enough to tank my spring semester!

Andrew Simone said...

Lately for me, it has been Salinger, Hemmingway, or Pound.

I know, an odd mix


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife