I don't claim to know what a "classic" really entails, but it appears to me that it is something that provides one with new findings of significance and meaning every time one returns to it.
Right now I am reading "The Problems of Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell, and this classic provides us with many fresh insights and directions for further thoughts. The discussion on the ambiguity of "what is real" taking the example of the "sense-data" of a desk, for example, is quite interesting from the modern cognitive scientific point of view.
I suppose everyone who is intelligent enough to visit this blog :-) would have his or her favorite list of classics. I would suggest here that memories of one's own life can be added to the time-honored list.
A modern rational man has this idea that the past is gone once and for all and fixed. The fixed past concept is certainly true from the physical point of view, but one's own past can be a rich source for self-reflection, uncovering hidden secrets every time one returns to it. In this sense, the past is still living and evolving.
Recently I have been reflecting on my own life a lot, as I walk though the streets of Tokyo and in moments of silence in the bar. I have uncovered some hidden secrets. The realization of those buried agenda in my past has helped me understand the person that is me better and gain a better focus as I face the challenges in years to come.
I will give an example below.
After I graduated from the Physics department of University of Tokyo, I went on to study in the Law department of the same university. This change of subject was superficially induced by my girl friend at that time, who was studying law. But as I look back, I think I was secretly affected by the "zeitgeist" in the era of the "bubble economy", in which people had a tendency to worship money and what would be called today "celebrity culture".
At that time, Japan was at the height of illusory sense of extravagance, when it was rumored that the total value of land in Japan exceeded that of the United States. It seems ridiculous, with the benefit of hindsight, but people truly believed in the modern version of fairy tale for a few years.
In that superficial culture, striving to do something in the basic sciences seemed to be odd and out of date. My girl friend left me for another law school student. I was in a state of spiritual emergency. I needed a way out for my soul badly.
As I look back, I understand how I was affected by the memes of bubble economy, dumped by my girl friend. I think I recovered from the fall in a long, gradual and painful process.
Sadly, the country itself is probably yet to recover from the spirit of contempt and ridicule towards anything intellectual, judging from the "variety" shows being broadcast on Japanese television. However, it is not a time for finger pointing. It is a time for actions of good will.