Friday, July 17, 2009

the story of reading in my own words

I had intended to give a general explanation of how stories are created and disseminated throughout society (beginning with the last post: "the story of stories 1"). I knew almost immediately that I was only fooling myself (when has anything at slimodsoc not been about me?); at best I can only offer insight (with parenthetical asides) as to why I believe things to be so. Yet, while a near approximation of the core issue that I seek to explore, my false start doesn't quite capture the essence of the thing that truly troubles me, leaving another untied loose end in the saga that is the recorded babblings of my imagination. Oh well, allow me to begin again: Reading, what's the big deal?

It has always puzzled me as to why this practice holds such an esteemed place in our culture. Forgive me now as I use gross exaggerations to illustrate my point. Sit through Gone With the Wind, no small feat, and some film buffs may be impressed, but read the book and almost automatically you've entered that mythical realm of the educated. Of course this applies to any book/film adaption. Reading anything no matter what is, but especially if it's fiction, is time well spent while watching stories that I don't know, may be required some reading and writing in the making of them anyway, are dismissed as ephemeral distractions. TV will rot your brains, while books will unlock the mysteries of the universe. I see a billion or so mother's across the world smiling when ever their child indulges in this uniquely human function.

I admit that I have held a bias against reading 'chapter books' from a young age preferring TV for its ease of access. So while I agree in part with the above sentiment I still find it strange that one form of entertainment trumps another in legitimacy mainly because it's harder to do. Go to sleep early, eat healthy, don't be dumb; these all follow the path of most resistance and whatever is hard seems to be good for you, reading included.

Yes for me reading is hard, but less so now than in my formative years. At the age of 20 I went on a mission for the LDS church, while serving we (mostly) don't watch TV, all that was left was books (or talking to people) and I read my fair share there (mostly church affiliated). In my mind all this new information was non-fiction (more on this in a later post), I was learning many new and wonderful things and this reinforced the stereotype of reading as education. Nevertheless, this began the journey into the magical world of reading for me.

A fair few years have passed since that time and just recently my complaint against reading fiction (why read the book when you can watch the movie?) clued me into another use for the medium... Reading fiction is supposed to be enjoyable like watching TV, it's a form of entertainment. Shocking I know. It's taken me a while to come around, I bought into reading being about learning only, whenever I tried to read fiction I was violating my own flawed paradigm. The contradiction always lingered in my mind as I tried to push on through the material making it difficult to enjoy. Finally, now, it no longer hurts to do so.

To hear me tell it you'd think this was an act of heroism on my part, not quite, but it's progress. After a few years and many unfinished books I'm actually starting to enjoy the process of reading. You just seem to get used to it after a while. I used to struggle with piecing together all the parts of a narrative, but now whether abstract or visualised I usually manage to keep my entities straight. This is encouraging, because I see myself as a writer and I have felt drawn to writing novels for some time even though enjoying novels is only a recent development. Good for me. Its not unprecedented to enjoy the process of creation over and above the creation itself, ask anyone who's had kids, but I feel at peace and I'm ready continue writing now more than ever.

When I'm transported to these worlds, regardless of their grounding in reality -- the lines that separate the fictional and the factual are becoming increasingly blurred for me -- when I return to my reality I feel fortunate that I arrive back with a souvenir or two that I invariably find beneficial for my life's journey. Stories are amazing things. They help us to make sense of the world. Reading is obviously an effective way of communicating them (if I dedicate enough neurons to understanding what's going on). I suppose that's why it's such a big deal. So, I'll continue to read and write and tell my story.

Check out what I'm reading at this social networking site for book lovers.

Note to self:
I've been very slack at recording my work outs lately, time to get back on track

Back Squat 60*20, 100*6, 110*6, 60*23
DL 140/3*6
Power Clean 100/1*4, 120*1 (missed this last attempt)

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