Saturday, November 12, 2016

Double Reading

Winslow Homer, The New Novel, 1877

This may be the best description I've seen of what the process of reading literature can be like, so it's worth quoting at length:
The compressed living, communication overload, and fixation on speed dictated by connectivity can activate the memory of an alternative possibility, one which has been lost, but not irretrievably, that of a more organic life rhythm, of communication as a dialogic process, of a more leisurely flow. Such a slower rhythm, shaped through reading literature, allows a space for self-awareness, creates a space in which the reader can reflect on the movements of the reading process as they are played out; in which he can dwell on the flow of the text and reflect on the interplay between text and readerly subject. A kind of double reading is produced, whereby the reader reads the text and reads himself reading it at the same time, which in turn generates reflection at different levels: on the text, on the reading process, on the self as reader and as individual. The slowness enforced by the text can lead to a deepening of self-knowledge, both in terms of the insights suggested by the text and by way of the self-reflection that runs in the background of the reading process like a slowly turning prism. The reader's mind is set free to ruminate and explore, with no predetermined paths. The managerial superego, imposed by a culture which demands productive behaviour and measurable, "useful" outcomes, is suspended in favour of indeterminacy and intuition. A space is opened up in which the reader can experience a lost freedom and unfettered individuality. (Gerhard van der Linde, "Why Read against the Grain? Confessions of an Addict," in The Edge of the Precipice: Why Read Literature in the Digital Age? edited by Paul Socken, 2013, p. 213)

No comments:

Post a Comment