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Common-place: Common Reading: Undisciplined Reading: Finding surprise in how we read, Matthew P. Brown
"I read and teach novels regularly. But is the linear novel the only way one gets lost in a book? Consider those reference works that captivate you: a cookbook, a sports trivia volume, or a recordings guide. You open these books and escape into the pleasure of the cross-reference, the serendipitous, the transport to the known and the unknown. When I open David Thomson's New Biographical Dictionary of Film, forty minutes later the hard-boiled eggs are hard and boiling over, the cats are draped over the sleeping three-year-old, the dishes are still in the sink. Other than in Thomson's massaging, prickly prose, I know not where I am. The faint motion sickness I feel is from the cascade of ideas, memories, and anticipations, so different from the psychological and physiological response to channel- or Web-surfing, comparable fragmented modes of consumption. But reference-book reading of this sort assumes connoisseurship—that fancy word for heavy-panting, lighter-waving fandom—a habit of mind profoundly disciplinary.

I should feel shame about my disorderly reading, but I don't. In fact, I'd like to defend it as a reading practice of depth, rather than superficiality. Disorderly reading mimics the mind's generative activity of thought and discovery, those instances where you know something is happening but you don't know what it is. We might better call it discontinuous or nonlinear reading and acknowledge its long history, a history that reveals the fact that nonlinear reading lends itself to routinized procedure as well.

Reading seems ineluctably bound up in discipline, in customary behavior that precedes and structures the significance of the reading. But how then does reading become a means to the new, the unknown, the undiscovered? If even messy reading falls into predictable patterns and outcomes, how might what we read, or rather how we read, surprise us?

My contention is that one might use discipline to escape discipline, that freeing the mind is achieved by entering into restrictive procedures that liberate thinking. Let's begin by assessing that literary form most associated with the unknown, the undiscovered, or the novel—that is, the novel. Then we'll turn to early modern disciplines, finding analogies in them for contemporary reading scenes. Our guide here will be that Other to the twenty-first-century secular intellectual: the seventeenth-century English devout, those bigoted regicides and colonial Malvolios known—not without controversy, now and then, now perhaps more than then—as "Puritans.""



"Another reading discipline of surprise derived from Puritan mores is the conventicle. Conventicles were extramural religious meetings of select congregants within a church, most famously practiced in early America by Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian controversy. (A quiescent version of conventicling from contemporary church history is the cellular model of Rick Warren's organization, the Saddleback megachurch.) Rooted in the idea that reading matter rather than institutional authority could be a source of spiritual sustenance, conventiclers absorbed scripture, repeated sermons, and sang psalms. Conventicling operated along a spectrum from conservative to separatist. And, like puritan, conventicle was a rhetorically charged word that could mean devout private gathering or conspiratorial unlawful assembly, depending upon who did the labeling.

Pious or riotous, conventicling illuminates a classroom dynamic familiar to current undergraduate literature professors. My rough sense is that in research universities and non-elite colleges, a majority of the students in each course are cats we herd unsuccessfully, while a largish minority learn something in a rote way. The remnant is the conventicle, actual or virtual students who meet with their minds in class discussion, with each other outside of class, and with the professor after sessions. When I read Susannah Rowson or Herman Melville or Toni Morrison or Richard Powers for class preparation, I have the majority in mind, as I gather the three points I want to get across in the fifty minutes. Reaching and teaching this majority is one of the real pleasures of my professorial life. But, in the reading prep, I have the conventicle in mind, for that is where the surprise happens."
via:asfaltics  reading  howweread  matthewpbrown  2007  books  chaos  messiness  linearity  novels  behavior  orderliness  rules  academics  academia  pedagogy  nonliner  structure  structures  puritans  conventicles  oulipo  authorlessness  linear 
february 2015 by robertogreco
MEMORY CARD SEA POWER - David Southwood
"MEMORY CARD SEA POWER is the title of a broadsheet newspaper featuring a project that documents Tanzanian stowaways living under the National Road One in Cape Town.

The posters and prints live ephemerally under bridges and on walls in the public realm. The newspaper is printed with a single colour, black, and presents the hard, monotonous, grey underpass life of the stowaways with saturnine accuracy.

The text which the newspaper carries consists of writing by Sean Christie and pidgin Swahili graffiti reincarnated in big black League Gothic set by master designer Francois Rey at Monday Design.

Many of the newspaper’s 12 flat A1s are parts of composite photographs which means that a start-to-finish reading of the paper renders the life of the stowaways in a jerky, heroin-ripped collage. When the paper is disassembled it can be reconstituted as a series of posters and very large photographs.

It’s very difficult to reassemble the broadsheet in it’s original form because the pages are unnumbered so the collage effect is enhanced again as the parts of the story crash against each other. Like a foamy wave washing through the city centre, for example. Both Sean Christie’s diaristic entries and the bust-up stowaway aphorisms, or particles of hope, suit chance."
françoisrey  southafrica  davidsouthwood  mondaydesign  seanchristie  design  graphics  photography  graphicdesign  newspapers  broadsheets  capetown  tanzania  stowaways  migration  via:asfaltics  leaguegothic 
august 2014 by robertogreco
What Musicians Can Tell Us About Dyslexia and the Brain
"What did they find? On most tests of auditory perception, the dyslexic musicians scored as well as their non-dyslexic counterparts, and better than the general population. Where they performed much worse was on tests of auditory working memory, the ability to keep a sound in mind for a short time (typically seconds). In fact, the dyslexic musicians with the poorest working memory tended to have the lowest reading accuracy. Those with better working memory tended to be more accurate.

Writing in the February issue of the journal Neuropsychologia, Ahissar and her team suggest that auditory working memory might be a bottleneck for the performance of people with dyslexia. If so, that might shift more of researchers’ attention to memory-related brain regions in addition to the auditory areas that have gotten most of the attention in dyslexia research.

The results make a lot of sense. Learning a language requires making connections between sounds, what they mean, and how writing represents them, and memory is a crucial part of that process, says Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist who studies music and language at Northwestern University. “If you can’t remember a sound, you can’t make the connection.”"
memory  workingmemory  dyslexia  music  musicandmemory  2014  gregmiller  meravahissar  via:asfaltics 
february 2014 by robertogreco

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