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How do you read?

+4 votes
Lately I've been re-thinking the way I read. I've seen in myself and others the tendency of really "liking" pieces, but when pressed as to why it often is because it reinforces something they already believe. I'm wondering if people have run into something in the recent past that really brought them a new idea of, or perhaps changed their thinking in a fundamental, if even in a very small, way. How did it do this? I'm not sure that I've really had an "a-ha!" moment, or if I have made it into that after the fact.
asked Nov 11, 2018 by dim (440 points)
edited Nov 11, 2018 by dim
I guess what I mean is, do you think there is a method for drawing out novel anarchist ideas from a text that goes beyond saying "Look, this is an example of the kind of anarchy I already like"?

2 Answers

+3 votes
i like to think (ha) that there's a critical eye that comes with being an anarchist. a skepticism about at least a category of assumptions (human nature, "natural order", rights, a variety of things...). of course there are plenty of non-anarchists who have that eye, and plenty of anarchists who don't, but...

this definitely speaks to why i like science fiction. there's something about being taken for a ride in someone else's imagination that sometimes allows me to think about what i already think in a different way, which doesn't mean i can be articulate about it, unfortunately. i just mentioned ada palmer's book yesterday, but her terra ignota trilogy is definitely thought provoking, as she's thinking about distant future societies in a way that includes many, arguably mutually exclusive, social formations, through the eyes of various unreliable narrators, which i always think has an anarchist edge (unreliable narrators, i mean).
answered Nov 12, 2018 by dot (52,530 points)
@dot every time i try to add to this discussion i end up accidentally writing a bad version of your answer its very frustrating.  its happened like three seperate times now.
aw.

i expect you'll add more eventually. you're a reader! you have views!
+2 votes
If you come across a really "compelling" passage, one that might be capable of dissolving bits of your personality, I think what happens is not that you go, a-ha. I think what happens is that you read it, and you think, when I play this in my inner ear it sounds wonderful, but I can't quite imagine what it would be like to say it out loud. You sense that it could not have been said so beautifully by someone who had not thought about it in an extremely careful way for a long time, and that to understand it you'd have to do the same thing. Then you think: there is nothing I would rather be, than a person who understands this passage -- who, if he recited it out loud, would also be able to re-explain it in other words, because it had become a native part of of himself. It seems like if I were that person then my current problems would fade away because I would be focused on subtler, deeper ones. Then I suppose you re-read it a lot or you read other things by the same author, or you read criticism about that author, and in the end this becomes a habit, you forget why you started doing any of this, so that when you go back to that passage it seems like the most transparently true thing in the world, like drinking water.
answered Jan 30 by asker (8,200 points)
edited Apr 16 by asker
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