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What is reading?

What is reading?

When I read a novel, the story is being received imaginatively. The impact of the words and the interaction with the mind, is what the reader evaluates. It is an engaging, interesting, pleasurable, story, or the reader skips a lot, looks for more from the writing, and eventually gives up on the book. The same is happening when studying, although there is more incentive to plough through the reading even if it is not interesting.

Reading is usually this imaginative interaction with a story. It is a language skill and the reader gets more than the words on a page, inferring meaning and context, even when any particular word or phrase is unfamiliar. Some people like poetry, some don’t. Some people need to know the information more precisely. Some are just reading for leisure and entertainment.

In reading there is a great deal of this interaction with the mind, more than what is on a page. The reader is more than not, overlaying their own interpretation, their own needs, and their own attitudes. They also are taking their own evaluation to be the substance of what they read, not always correctly, and then to respond using their mistaken evaluation, further distorting what is written. Yet given that we do use imagination, what is the purpose of this habit of narrowly picking on a word or phrase? Is it a review, a critique, of the writings in a book, on a page? Or is it that the reader has a preference for their own ideas, and opinions?

Probably this is all considered normal, and not worth mentioning. To bring this interaction to the readers attention is usually dismissed as irrelevant trite, and not in keeping with the appropriate reading, such as you do normally with reading a novel, or a reference book, a treatise, etc. So the question is, are you still reading a novel when you engage in serious discussion? Don’t look to the answer the question verbally. Don’t look at the words and react. Think about it. Is what is happening in the mind, and the reader overlaying their own story, comparing the words, is this not actually communing together with an open mind?

Hi Peter,

Shouldn’t reading being the same as “the art of listening,” but with the eyes?

this week I read an article about Orunmila an African contemporary of Socrates. The researcher Sophie Bosede Oluwole, as the first female African graduate philosopher, describes philosophy as:
“various forms of wisdom in which several aspects of human experience are brought together.”

an eye opener for the mind

It seems people don’t understand reading, listening, looking, etc, is a mechanical operation of the mind, such as with language, memory, tradition, etc., and this is conditioning the mind. When I, the reader, listener, thinker, want to know what someone has said or written, I go to the words and ideas. This operation is a difficult thing to understand with insight, because we think we are a creator, and believe the reading, listening, thinking, etc., is the pure instrument free of our involvement in the activity.

What we have read or heard, is taken as verbal information, falsely indicative of such a separate mind from me, that it requires analysis, evaluation, assessment, instruction, advice, etc. Human conditioning is kept to, and applied, as an intellectual, abstract, conceptual, notion. Then within the mind, mechanically, automatically, it is a process of comparing words and ideas, divided internally and externally. What is considered falsely to be a response, is a reaction. It is in this reactionary mode that leads people to search for clarification, for meaning, for truth. Obviously it is the artificial separateness, the division of minds, that we are trying to solve. That’s why we have so much story telling, and philosophy.

This phrase jumped out at me as it would be a totally false notion, but is a notion held by many. There are no meanings in the words themselves nor are there ideas. Each reader brings their meaning to the words and forms their ideas of what the words convey. To the extent that the meanings and the ideas formulated are the same between writer/ speaker and reader/listener there is communication. This being a very crude form of communication, there is a lot of miscommunication. Because we can reply with our understanding, there is the opportunity to clarify through exchanges of responses until clarity is reached. Of course, both must be open to such an exchange and one or both are not suffering from hardening of the categories, which one, all to often, encounters and must be attentive to in oneself, as well. Is this process of exchanging, this openness to the communication of the other, to bring clarity, communion?

What is it, to be open?

To be open is to listen with total attention to the other who is speaking. The attention on the other, being total, leaves no space for psychological thought.

Is “being” different to “other”, or is it all an activity?

Not clear on what the question is.

The way we usually conduct ourselves is an interaction between “being” and “other”. The difference that we see between, for this interaction to take place, is in the words, in the reading, in the nature of a thought activity. The thought activity is the difference and the separation, labeled “being”, and “other”.