Saturday, February 22, 2014

On Reading ..and Reading Slowly

The haste is killing all the beauty of life. We are wading through life barely living, huffing and puffing barely catching our breath. We are barely holding on to the breath, trying to hang on to a tired heart and a brain pummeled to pulp by pounding sense of constant urgency. The butterflies, the lovely butterflies which yearn to escape to the free, virgin airs of solitary mountain, struggle, caged in a rigid mind.

The time is running out is a constant theme which pervades all my being. I read and write as if racing against the time which is fast running me out. I read with more of an urgency of a dying man than with the living curiosity of a new-born child (latter I so much long to have). We listen to music, on the commute, not to exceed even for a moment beyond the pre-assigned time. When was the last that we fit in our day’s work into art which spread across the day, luxurious, broad and glorious?  It is always the other way round, and we fit in art into the cracks. Art, in all its forms, sleeps hidden in tattered clothes in the dark, damp corners of our lives, like the little Cinderella in her step-mother’s house.  The pumpkin vegetates in the damp corner, waiting for the day when it might become a grand carriage.

We meet friends and greet each other with “There is no time” like the timid hare of the folklore who when out exclaiming with fear, “The sky is falling.” Time isn’t shrinking; it is about discipline and prioritizing the things which are important to us. We do tend to find time for the things we consider important. The attention has shifted outwards and we are generally spending time in outward grooming of the body, while the soul remains impoverished.

I read. I want to write. For me, writing is nothing but an extension to reading. When you read something brilliant, you want to imbibe some of that brilliance of that into your soul and let it flow on the paper. I am quite worried about the recent interviews of rich writers claiming to never have written anything of consequence in their life, thereby claiming to be producing a low-brow literature which is accessible to masses. I do not suppose that is the purpose of literature. True, writers, at least the full time ones, have to eat and therefore need to establish markets. But then, establish is the key word. No point in writing railway timetables because there is an established market for them. Literature is meant to uplift the mood, if not the soul. It should pull up the level of mass intelligence and not be pulled down to the mass dumbing down of generation as we observe. It is the ladder to a better human thought.

Reading is becoming a lost art. People do not read. If they read, they read in a hurry. This is unjust to the writer and even more unjust to the art of writing. You can’t and mustn’t read Crime and Punishment or The Heart of Darkness or Lord Jim in a hurry. These books are written with great honesty and deserve to be read with religious attention. They weren’t written under million dollars, three books contract over a year. They are not written with profanities to extend their reachability to the masses. They contain magical words, written with immense labor. When you read them, you can almost see a solitary figure, struggling with each sentence, working perilously close to break down in search of a solemn truth. Those written words are to be read with respect. One must almost want to take of the shoes before sitting down to read these classics. Anything less seems to be condescending to the writer and blasphemous to the written word. You cannot read them in a rush, you need to pause and read. You read each sentence and throw it up in the air, and then watch it floating gloriously in the lightness of immense truth they hold inside.

Literature is nothing but a private pursuit of truth made public. Truth, of course, is ever-elusive and keeps moving farther. But these immortal classics offer us long legs, with which we may cross the Nietzsche’s abysses of ignorance, abysses over which the rope connecting the man and the Over-man stretches. We must read and more importantly, we must read slowly, with care and with awe, for our own truths may be hidden within them. They are the friends who will never have ego issues, will never misunderstand you, and will never abandon you. They will embrace you without any bitterness if you hold them back again, even after having abandoned them for years. You do not talk to the friends in a hurry. You need to grab your cup of tea and sit patiently with them and they will open a world which will present truth several colors, each truer than the other. They will offer you fiction of truths which will rescue from the reality of lies we live in. 
Wrote a poem "Read Slowly" on this topic, few days back (Didn't I say, writing is a private search for truth made public)

It seems to have been long
Since I read slowly
So slow, that the words
Float in the air
As if drunk on their own beauty
And I could just catch them
One by one
And hold them in my mouth
To my hearts content,
To let the taste linger
and the brain dance in rapture,
Slowly read, Slowly breath
Slowly live this Saturday Afternoon.

If you thought Classics are dead, one of my most read post is The Insulted and The Humiliated by Dostoevesky- Review

 
And the brain dance in rapture
Slowly read, slowly breath
Slowly live this lazy

 
 
 
And the brain dance in rapture
Slowly read, slowly breath
Slowly live this lazy Saturday.

And the brain dance in rapture
Slowly read, slowly breath
Slowly live this lazy Saturday.
 

 

2 comments:

secretevil1 said...

While you do make some valid points, I disagree with some of them. Not all books are written to be read slowly - their pace encourages one to turn the next page to see what happens. Look at the books of H. Rider Haggard, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. These books are written much differently than those by Faulkner, Melville or Hawthorne.

While it's sad for an author to admit that they only write for the money and don't put out anything of consequence, you have that in every field and there is no way to overcome it. All you can do is write to the best of your ability because you love to write and care enough about what you do to produce the very best literature that you can.

secretevil1 said...

While you make some very good points, there are a few I don't agree with. Not all literature is written to be read slowly and reverently. The books of H. Rider Haggard, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are written much differently than those by Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne and William Faulkner. The pacing is different, as well as the genres. "King Solomon's Mines" makes you want to turn the pages quickly to find out what happens next, while "Light in August" drifts along slowly, much like the summer in Alabama in the story.

As with all vocations and avocations, there are people who write solely for the money and there are those who write because they love what they do and must do it for those reasons. You will always have both kinds of writers, but all you can do is write to the best of your abilities because you love your literature. The others aren't worth worrying about or stressing over.

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