Alla inlägg den 15 juni 2008

Av dennis hägglund - 15 juni 2008 03:15

Reading is the art of making meaning from sentences and their context. How do we make meanings? We can do it in a very egocentric way, or we can do it in a way that always arrives at what the author has meant. The egocentric way, the lazy way, is to decide that any meaning must be familiar. This is "reading by recognition”. For example, you read, "Cherishing other as oneself.”, and this becomes, "Sharing. Don’t Bogart that joint. Don't eat your candy in secret where no one can demand a share.”, whereas the original meaning is, "Self-obliviousness, the metamorphosis from self-awareness (which is awareness limited to what can be controlled by will, splitting conscious from unconscious and subconscious) to self-exclusive other-awareness.”.

When we are no longer self-oblivious this real meaning is not recognizable, and the lazy reading of the words does not admit the challenge of the unfamiliar, the yet-to-come. Is there such a thing as self-oblivious people? If so there is no familiar way to mean them, no way to recognize them. Small children are self-oblivious, but no ordinary adult has ever recognized them as such, so despite the familiarity with small children in the present and the fact that all of us have been small children there is no familiarity with the phenomenon.

Self-oblivion may seem to the recognition like some sort of fetish accomplished through bizarre rituals, but in reality it is only the recovery of the lost mind or perception. This recovery is not chosen, not something on a menu to select or not. The intelligence that remains must demand that the intelligence that is lost be recovered if the chance arrives.

It is hard work to read without recognition as the way to arrive at a meaning, and hence as a way to proceed, to continue, to get to the end. It is hard work to see so many words and to have read so few of them after so much effort. But it is education. You don’t pick up your first serious calculus book and read it in an evening.

It is not an insult to us, after we have established that we can earn a living, to be given something that is difficult to get through. The writer didn’t just out of the blue write these things, but has devoted his life to it, so it should not feel strange to the reader that it requires some mental energy and time to understand it and actually get it done.

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