And, of course, human beings do not cooperate with the categories to which we assign them – not even ourselves. The specimens in our personal petri dishes are too squirmy, too independent, for that. And still we do it. For this issue of mortality comes again, and we must be something. We must be liberal, or conservative, communist, atheist, fundamentalist; we must prefer Sontag to Paglia, or Cortazar to Amado, or bananas to spinach. So we deselect (and preselect) our interests and rely on the summaries of experts for the rest; summaries by people who are, by definition, alienated from us by their dedication to their own preoccupations – preoccupations that do not interest us enough to delve so deeply ourselves.
Of course, it isn’t just books. It’s everything. We always find ourselves immensely complex and others readily diagnosed; without this principle, not only psychotherapy but advice would cease to exist. This is the paradox of categorization, however necessary the process might be.
And for all that, we are ultimately reducible to a single category: that of stardust contemplating itself.