Monday, October 29, 2007

Bulletin #346.2 or so: the indeterminate space between reading and nonreading.

1. Say hello to Mr. Puffy, who had his wisdom teeth out last week. This, in preparation for submitting his LDS mission papers. Yesterday was the first time he ate food that needed to be chewed (a pepperoni pizza, which isn't really food, it's medicine! it will help you get better from oral surgery!).

2. Say hello to the Fluffy Chicken, which is what young Deacon is going to be for Halloween.

3. The French are so dang smart! To wit, this brief interview Deborah Solomon conducted with Pierre Bayard in the NYTimes Sunday Magazine:

Q: As a professor of French literature at the University of Paris, you’re offering rather subversive advice in your 12th book, “How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read,” which is about to be published in this country. Do you think it will fare as well here as it has done in Europe?

A: I have no idea. It was a best seller in France. People bought it without reading it — they followed my advice. It was a best seller in Germany, too, because there are many nonreaders in Germany, and they want to see their rights defended.

Q: Naturally, I read your book in preparation for this interview. Do you think I made a mistake in doing so?

A: What do you mean when you say, “I read it”? One of the purposes of my book is to show that it is not so easy to say that you have read a book.

Q: What’s wrong with the traditional method of starting a book on the first page and reading through to the end?

A: It’s important to know how to read from the first line to the last line, but there are also other ways of reading. You can skim books, you can just have heard about them, you can have read them and forgotten them.

Q: You write in your book about Montaigne, who confessed to having a poor memory and to forgetting about books he himself had written. Which leads you to ask: If we read a book and forget that we read it, is that the same as never having read it?

A: I think between reading and nonreading there is an indeterminate space that is quite important, a space where you have books you have skimmed, books you have heard about and books you have forgotten. You don’t have to feel guilty about it.

Q: But what about those of us who read to feel things — to experience pleasure, an end to loneliness?

A: Of course I read in order to feel something. And to feel an end to my loneliness, of course, just as you.

Q: Then why are you so willing to devalue the experience of close reading in favor of skimming? You seem to believe that knowing a little bit about 100 literary classics is preferable to knowing one book intimately.

A: I think a great reader is able to read from the first line to the last line; if you want to do that with some books, it’s necessary to skim other books. If you want to fall in love with someone, it’s necessary to meet many people. You see what I mean?

Q:You suggest in your book that schools destroy a love of literature, in part because they don’t allow skimming.

A: Yes. Sometimes I help my son write book reports. Guillaume — he’s 14. It’s terrible. The questions are so specific about the names of characters, dates and towns where the heroes went that I am unable to answer the questions. It is the model of reading in France. A kind of scientific reading, which prevents people from inventing another kind of reading, which should be a form of wandering, as in a garden.

Q: Wouldn’t your son be better off if you let him do his homework by himself?

A: He thinks he wastes his time with book reports, and I agree with him.

I love this guy.

4. The Chinese have nicknames for NBA players! In this wonderful profile of Steve Nash, found in the sports version of the NYTimes Sunday Magazine, the writer reports that the Chinese account for a third of the hits on, and have nicknames for a bunch of NBA players, including "Sweet Melon" for Carmelo Anthony, and "Stone Buddha" for Tim Duncan. Alas, they are correct about Duncan, aka The Nemesis.

And speaking of nemeses, I must read and respond to portfolios, aka the Stone Buddhas of my own personal game, which I am not on, actually, at the moment.


  1. Great post. A little something for everyone. Sweet Melon Anthony! Hilarious.

  2. Tell puffy cheeks to think positive thoughts about getting a mission call to Scotland!

  3. I exist in that space between reading and non-reading. That's my space! And I agree about skimming.
    I, for example, would have been much happier skimming Paradise Lost. I mean, who understands that shit anyway?
    Maybe Sweet Melon?

  4. Happy Halloween, Lisa B. I want to ruffle that baby's fine feathers.

    I read and forget. Or I skim. Or I remember the six books I read when I was eleven and everything else refers to them.

  5. i love steve nash. he and my kid have always had similar hairstyles.

    i'm pretty sure i used that french method to prepare for the GRE.

    dr. write: as milton would say, tut tut tut.



Related Posts with Thumbnails