The art of reading

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9 Responses to The art of reading

  1. neil ridley says:

    oh Ben what is the word culture being abused for, you were doing so well then I stopped.
    I started again and for a refernce to the Guardian – this is not good enough.
    Much better on the methodical magnificence, I like that.

    It implies shutting one’s big mouth and putting one’s own opinions on hold – reading on the author’s terms – having the patience and open-mindedness to listen to what the author is actually saying, rather than what one wishes or expects to hear. Reading isn’t an interactive activity; it’s one-way.

    I wonder Ben perhaps you can use that in my next job application reference, sums me up to a tea or is it tee?

    • Diiarts says:

      I’ll stand by “culture” if you’re talking about “a culture of soundbites and instant gratification”; remember that a culture can also mean something unpleasant growing in a petri dish!

  2. Behira says:

    Ben – this is a great post. I think you can apply this to listening to music too; absolute submission i.e. ‘give yourself to the moment’ it can be something very profound – I think Pauline Oliveros struck something when she theorised about ‘deep listening’ – perhaps there is a ‘deep reading’ too…

  3. Gwen says:

    Concentration and focus – yes indeed. And I agree with Behira about music too. Thank you, Ben, for advocating thoughtful reading; having been prevented from speed-reading by a classical education (where ends of words and sentences matter as much as beginnings) I’m pleased to be reassured that care and attention are important too.

  4. Ben Bennetts says:

    Gwen, thank you for your comments. I had never seen that aspect of a classical education in those terms; my own classical education was cruelly curtailed by a combination of ineptitude and idleness on my part (for which my teachers were in no way responsible).

    I had a most remarkable experience as a result of offline discussion with Behira, who mentioned a recording of TS Eliot reading The Waste Land; I was able to get hold of same, and realised on first listening (a) just how much one misses when reading from the page, and (b) how much *more* one must miss when reading prose than poetry – at least with poetry one [might presumably] expect every word to be significant.

    An update on reading every word, though – it is astonishingly difficult, FAR more so than I expected – one’s brain is forever trying to finish sentences or paragraphs – and I cannot swear that I have succeeded 100% of the time, but when I have, it’s changed my experience completely. A further post will follow one of these days.

    In the meantime, I believe Andy the architect wishes me to write a post addressed to my colleagues, entitled: “What part of the phrase ‘Change control is now closed’ did you not understand?”

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