I’ve always had moments of déjà-vu while reading, but over the last few months I’ve been having them more frequently. It’s not an unpleasant experience—on the contrary, it brings me closer to the text, makes me feel like we’re on familiar terms. It hits me like a moment of insight, the doubling of the words, the meaning, the experience of reading acting like a catalyst to thrust me further into the text, merging me with it alchemically. It’s a minor thrill.
Well, a couple weeks ago I realized what was happening—at least a working hypothesis. When I first buy a book, one of the things I do is flip through and open to random pages, where I read short excerpts, usually no more than one or two sentences. It’s a procedure that whets my appetite for the work, teases me with it. It’s playful, foreplay, foreshadowing events I can’t yet quite understand. It’s a ritual.
So, I think what’s happening isn’t déjà-vu at all. I think I’ve indeed read the passages before. But thankfully this awareness does little to dull the experience, or counter the deepening I described above. Have any of you had this experience? What are your rituals before or during reading a book?