Learning to Not read


In Italo Calvino’s If on a Winters Night a Traveller,” there is a character who doesn’t read. Anything. He doesn’t read billboard signs, or receipts, or store signs, or labels, or titles. He has taught himself how to not read. He stared at the words until the disappeared, and the meanings were no longer comprehensive to him. This character described it as a release from all the words being thrown at you. He is akin to the nobel savage trope, free from the influence of society, he can live his life away from the subtle suggestions and opinions that come to us through reading.

What an interesting twist, I thought to myself. I was fascinated. Once you learn to read, one never thinks of the consequence of reading. You cannot unread a sentence once it has been read. I read something today about movie theatres that gave me goosebumps, and I wish I didn’t know. I now don’t want to see a movie at the theatres for a long, long time.

We are made privy to the subliminal messages, the propaganda, the stupid jokes, derogatory comments, advertisements…etc. One never thinks one should read critically once we learn to read, because words and their meanings simply become ingrained in our lifestyles. It can be seen as a trap.

However, it is a wonderful trap. It is the epitome of taking the good with the bad.

The pages are coming slowly now, unfortunately. I am so close! But I have been preparing, researching and writing essays this past week, and will be spending most of tomorrow writing another one. Same old, same old.

98 pages with 2 left to go. Why am I taking so long?

Photo reference: http://www.deviantart.com/art/A-walk-in-Bandung-115458084


4 thoughts on “Learning to Not read

  1. I’ve been reading since I was four years old and I honestly can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read so the idea of NOT reading — either because of an inability or a lack of desire — is kind of fascinating to me. When I was in college, I took Japanese and found it incredibly frustrating — which I think might have been because for the first time in my life I couldn’t look at a page and make immediate sense of what I saw there. Even when I took Spanish in high school I could at least READ the words, even if I couldn’t immediately understand them.

    Good luck with those last two pages!

  2. I love to read, but it is true that everything we read is not always good for our minds or our souls. As we mature we learn to discern what is good and what is not. Never give up the gift of reading and writing! Good luck!

  3. Interesting post. I’d like to think that reading and writing are so intertwined, they cannot be separated! Just the act of naming something gives it more power. Only two more pages? May those pages comes easily for you!

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