Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Do you hear music when you read fine writing?

March 16, 2019

Every day for almost two years I would bring out a couple books — Nabokov short stories and Donald Hall “Essays after 80”. The intent was just to develop an ear for writing. I wasn’t reading for content, I was reading for ear. I would spend two hours each night on just a paragraph or two or three, and I would break it down. When I opened Nabokov’s short stories at random and started reading his sentences, my jaw dropped. I didn’t know the English language could do that. How is this guy doing that? It was so different, at such a higher level. I would dissect his paragraphs: Why did he put this word here, in this sentence and not there? Why did he use this transition from this paragraph to the next? Suppose I do it differently; it sounds worse – why? Why does it sound worse when I move this word? There are 6 words that mean the same thing, why did he choose that one? Let me try replacing it; oh, it sounds worse. I would do this repeatedly.  I picked Nabokov because his sentences and rhythm and musicality of writing was jaw-dropping. In every sentence. Every sentence is a 10 out of 10. How does this guy do it?  I started getting a weird experience after doing this for a year. I would read passages and I would hear music. I would hear the passages in my head, as music. The music was in perfect harmony. And then I would pick up a newspaper or some other stuff and I couldn’t read more than two sentences because it sounded like clashing; it was grating.

— Safi Bahcall, at time 33:30 in this podcast.

Reading, exercising, and life

October 30, 2017

I sometimes read some words and pronounce “I read it” even if I didn’t fully understand what I read. Sadly, the goal is to get through the words, with some minimal understanding. The goal is not to thoroughly understand it.

I sometimes do an exercise and pronounce “I did it” even if I didn’t fully feel the movement and the muscles that were used. Sadly, the goal is to get through the exercise, with some minimal sensory feeling. The goal is not to thoroughly feel the movement and the muscles.

The years are passing by quickly. I wonder if, unconsciously, my goal is to get through life, with some minimal awareness. I hope not.

I will strive to live the life of an artist

February 11, 2016

From this day forward I am an artist. At least, I will strive to live the life of an artist.

My interests revolve around reading, writing, working with data, and programming. Thus, my “canvas” will be my books, my words, data, and programs.

If I am not expressing and seeking beauty in my interests, then I am not living properly. The purpose of my life is to express and seek beauty …….. This is an astonishing insight for me.

I feel a great sense of relief and peace. Till this day I have approached life like a person swimming upstream: always striving to achieve something important, always fighting to rise the ladder, compete, excel. Approaching life from the perspective of an artist focused on expressing and seeking beauty … well, that makes a huge difference to me, in my mind and in my emotions.

Mindless exercising, mindless reading … how did I go astray for so long?

June 29, 2014

I wish that someone had told me this long ago:

The purpose of exercising is not to complete a certain number of repetitions or lift a greater amount of weight. The purpose is to establish a mind-body connection and stimulate muscle growth and strength.

The purpose of reading is not to reach the end of the book as quickly as possible. The purpose is to learn and grow and incorporate the book’s ideas into one’s own knowledge.

How did I go astray for so long? Am I alone in going astray?

Read a book or article until it becomes a part of your being

June 15, 2014

Years ago I read a book which said (paraphrasing): Many people read a book once and then a few months later they have forgotten what they read. Such books have no lasting effect on the reader. The purpose of reading is to gain new knowledge that can be used as a step to gaining still more knowledge. If one has forgotten what was read, one fails to climb the tree of knowledge. One should read a book three or four times, or more. A book should become a part of you.

Recently I have been doing housecleaning and am embarrased by the huge number of books that I own, many of which I have read only small parts of, some I have never even opened. What a shameful waste.

From now on, I will buy fewer books. I will focus on one book until it becomes a part of me. Only then will I move on to the next book.

The Lost Art of Reading, Writing, and Conversation

December 14, 2012

I am in the airport awaiting my flight. I am reading a book. I look up and around and see one person reading a newspaper (USA Today), a few  people texting on their cellphone, many people intently focused on their mobile device (doing what, I have no idea), one person is talking on her cellphone, a couple people are sleeping. No one is talking or involved in a conversation.

I think back 5 years and remember many people reading books, writing with pen and paper, and discussing events with others.

What has happened to our society?

Someone just pulled out “The Economist” and started reading it. That’s exciting.

I received this feedback from a learned friend: People don’t read except “tweets.”  It used to be that young people learned Latin, Greek, and the Classics in high school. Now they struggle to learn Remedial English in college.

Avoid commas in sentences to accelerate information absorption

August 16, 2008

I am in a hurry.

I want to learn quickly.  You too?

Anything that slows me down is to be avoided.

Commas are syntax to get the reader to pause.  Commas slow you down.  Commas are evil.

I wonder if anyone has written a book that doesn’t use any commas?

This message doesn’t use commas.  I’ll bet you were able to read it really fast.