I'm a Creative at MediaFront and Co-founder of The Refinement Club. Seeker of inspiration, knowledge and ideas.

This is a feed of my thoughts and things that I find enlightening. Basically its a 21st century version of the commonplace book.


Posts tagged reading

The Curse of Reading and Forgetting 

…rereading may come from a false sense of reading as conquest. As we polish off some classic text, we may pause a moment to think of ourselves, spear aloft, standing with one foot up on the flank of the slain beast. Another monster bagged. It would be somehow less heroic, as it were, to bend over and check the thing’s pulse. But that, of course, is the stuff of reading—the going back, the poring over, the act of committing something from the experience, whether it be mood or fact, to memory. It is in the postmortem where we learn how a book really works.

Slow knowledge

The acquiring of knowledge and insights has been occupying my mind lately. More and more information and knowledge tends to be served in snackable portions, short texts, videos or talks. Online you can gobble up the latest TEDtalk while eating lunch, read a blogpost about the latest revolution or something, check some facts on Wikipedia and so on. We are overwhelmed by information and knowledge to acquire. We’re constantly at the drive in of the fast food joint of knowledge. 

You can cram a book into a nice 10 minute animation which serve all the insights and ideas the book has to offer, but what it cant emulate is the slowly consumption book reading is. Spending time with the ideas of other, greater, minds and adding your biases and knowledge to the the mix. Committing and investing a great time of thinking about a subject.

For me thats whats make reading books so unique and special. It lets me deeply explore topics, ideas and thoughts through the minds of other. Slowly building my own insights and opinions.

Every McDonald’s, for instance, looks the same—the company deliberately tries to standardize stores’ architecture and what employees say to customers, so everything is a consistent cue to trigger eating routines. The foods at some chains are specifically engineered to deliver immediate rewards—the fries, for instance, are designed to begin disintegrating the moment they hit your tongue, in order to deliver a hit of salt and grease as fast as possible, causing your pleasure centers to light up and your brain to lock in the pattern. All the better for tightening the habit loop.
An efficient brain requires less room, which makes for a smaller head, which makes childbirth easier and therefore causes fewer infant and mother deaths. An efficient brain also allows us to stop thinking constantly about basic behaviors, such as walking and choosing what to eat, so we can devote mental energy to inventing spears, irrigation systems, and, eventually, airplanes and video games.

Reading and Guilty Pleasure 

Vigorous intellectual activity is itself a primary source of pleasure—and pleasure of greater intensity and satisfaction than that available from what is merely “easy reading.”

They’re highborn, all but Blane, they get drunk on words instead of wine.
Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.
Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with one’s own.

In defence of obscure words 

…the risk that people seem most reluctant taking is not a physical but a mental one: just as the concrete in children’s playgrounds has been covered with rubber, so the hard truth about the effort needed for intellectual attainment is being softened by a sort of semantic padding.
…now that all formerly difficult subject matter is, if not exactly permitted, readily accessible, cultural artificers have no need to aim high. The displacement of aesthetically and intellectually difficult art as the zenith has resulted in all sorts of sad and interrelated phenomena.
…the most disturbing result of this retreat from the difficult is to be found in arts and humanities education, where the traditional set texts are now chopped up into boneless nuggets of McKnowledge, and students are encouraged to do their research - such as it is - on the web.

In place of the difficulty involved in seeking out the literary canon, younger people are coming to rely on search engines to do their thinking for them. The end result of this will be a standardisation of understanding itself, as people become unable to think outside of the box-shaped screen.

Learning should be challenging, it’s why you learn; to comprehend challenging topics and knowledge. On the other hand, I don’t think unnecessary challenging or obscure words enhances the text or lecture. Make it comprehendible and let the topic provide the challenge.

As a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.
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