I am having a bit of an identity crisis.
All my life, I've thought of myself as a reader. I've read everything from classics of literature (haughty sneer here) to boxes of cereal, with a lot of things that don't even fall between those included. No matter what I read, I have always been able to get something out of it. Sometimes trashy books really make me think; sometimes ads in magazines imbue me with righteous anger. It doesn't matter what the reading material is; I can glean something of value from it.
This weekend I've been reading Gayatri Spivak and Jacques Derrida, both considered well worth reading. Plenty of people whose opinions I respect love these writers.
I am getting nothing out of this reading. Nothing. Not a damn thing. I have pored over pages multiple times; I have scanned quickly over sections; I have thought about each word as it comes, looking things up in dictionaries if I thought I might be misunderstanding them.
After all of this, I feel like my knowledge has not increased one whit. My thoughts are not more complex than they were before; they are not simpler either. Nothing has been elucidated or mystified that was not already lucid or mystic. I have a headache and insomnia, but I don't consider those productive effects of reading.
What am I doing wrong? Why can I find nothing useful here?