Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reasons not to Read

If you are a reader, it is hard not to have the time for it. I spent have expended years on buses with long hours at work, which occupies time quite effectively dominates one's time, and at the end of the day, came have come to understand why millions of boobs consider themselves too exhausted to do nought but watch the boob tube. (If you're wondering why I didn't read on the bus, try them some time: bumpy, liable to miss a stop if not paying attention, and if one dependent on them, you're liable to be sleeping on them as much as you're able. That's another consideration: you're less liable to miss a stop sleeping, which can be established as a very regular routine in which you wake at the right moments, than becoming absorbed in an activity like reading.)

I find it funny, however, that millions have eight to ten hours at work and thirty to sixty minutes to drive; It's still "funny" to me, however, that millions have, at the least semi-, regular hours--between eight and ten at work, and from thirty to sixty minutes drive time--yet profess that they are stretched to the limit between keeping up with activities necessary to life at home, and those of the workplace.  I was spending anywhere from twelve to twenty hours out, with several more for cooking and hygiene in, and hopefully--maybe-- sleep, when I considered myself so exhausted that I could honestly profess inability to do much beyond the basic essentials for living, tasks necessarily done for the job at home, and working on the job itself. Those days I got off early, I spent recouping for all those whose hours were so long that they were hazards to the health, and doing errands. Life was an endless series of labors, mostly just to maintain a job: it is still, in fact, but for a certain reason, I think will get easier. Physical labor is hard, but it's deadly without adequate rest. In it all I have even added aiding a great aunt with Alzeimer's to the mix, for which I have admittedly come close to losing my job (having moved so far from work before acquiring an auto, leaving little room for tiny, but consequential, unexpected issues to crop-up. Four hours of sleep also became one and a half to three, with four being best case scenarios).

The reason I think things will get easier, however, is that now I do have an auto. And now that I have an auto, I plan to get more sleep, so as to no longer burn so much of the candle, and from there to increase performance at work, because I have time to heal. After some period of recuperation, to begin reading again--heavily; not simply for information; nor, as Mortimer J. Adler would put it, simply for understanding; both are important; also, however, for productive ends--to learn practical things; nevertheless, I really desire to engage in reading for the first couple purposes, mostly the second. All that said, I was thinking of reasons that one might not read.

Reasons that one might not read:

1. As already mentioned, being too exhausted. I think I have studied Latin on the bus now for over a year, and I am only five chapters into a tiny little book, part 1 of three, I think, of the Oxford course. I purchased this book for a class at university from which I dropped out due to family issues requiring my leaving. The course was intensive, years ago (so I have forgotten most of what I studied only once in that class), and probably proceeded through five chapters in the first couple days. If you have ever been in a situation that you are so squeezed by circumstances that you hardly sleep, you probably know how it is to find oneself unable to form durable, long-term memories, at least for information unrelated to your immediate practical concerns (and even those might be insufficient to force the neurons to store anything).

2. Insufficient time. Fairly self-explanatory. I read plenty for amusement, even stuff I really wanted to remember and recall, also already explained. But this also includes expansion on what has been said: one might not merely be needy and pressed between difficult circumstances, but could be quite well off, yet required to fulfill other duties or responsibilities which demand one's attentions; in other words, "one has better things to do"; in the case of being needy, "one has more pressing demands".

3. To visit old matter after resting old opinions or recollections. I once was part of a religious organization that turned out to be abusive, and commonly heard from former members that they had trouble reading the Bible, something--to put in a very simplified way--they believed to be true (or in a more complex manner that can be orthodox coming from some, or meant to conceal unorthodoxy from the mouths of others, believed to contain truth). Partly from the way it would evoke bad old memories related to horrible teachings built upon wresting the Bible, merely trying to read their holy book was itself another bad experience, and evocative of experiences they did not want to re-live. Advice from folks experienced in helping such folks out included i. putting it down a while and perhaps allowing all that material to receded from immediate importance and memory, and ii. reading other translations less similar to the ones they knew from involvement in that organization.

Besides avoiding recall of traumatic experiences and episodes in life, one might stop for a while to put aside current opinions and prejudices and revisit once wiser (or maybe not), more open-minded or less prejudiced; or there, to bring a more skillful discipline of reading, involving those other reasons, to bear on a text. E.g. one who reads proverbs without much experience in life, may not benefit too greatly. Similarly, someone who reads a work on epistemology can probably benefit greatly from becoming familiarized with the subjects involved in that work. Any kind of philosophical work is due familiarity with its allusions and assumptions; social commentary, with the phenomena involved, or which its author assumes to be rightly understood in a certain way, or that his audience probably understands in a certain way, and therefore does not explain to the uninitiated, requires one to recognize those assumptions. Also, prejudices, that is, understanding something in a certain way before engaging it, though usually present, and although those who recognize their presence, and who are decent readers  will work hard to "suspend belief" (so to speak), and step into the understanding of the writer bit by bit so as to read for to conceive of the real meaning of the text, and not for misconception, can have powerful influence upon understanding despite efforts and abilities, so removing from mind and attention those things which evoke them can cause their diminishment so as to engage a topic more freshly to achieve that goal of understanding in different dimensions, or from a new perspective new to the reader. Relating this to the churchy example above, many of the abused told of how they recognized that they were mis-taught the meaning or intent of a passage, and realized how that misteaching and mis-application could still filter into mind when reading some passage of Scripture; for this reason also did those who counseled them recommend other translations, at least to initiate the process of suspending assumptions about what they read, not to relegate formerly beloved versions to the discard pile.

4. ... I don't know that there is a fourth. Besides cheeky reasons or answers for parody, those above are quite broad, categorical reasons for the reader to stop reading which, I think, sufficiently exhaust the "good" reasons one might cease, at least for a time, to read.

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