• Grre
    138
    To keep things rolling with some recent disputes regarding public education systems; thought I would open a thread to continue some of the themes from that previous debate. Also to discuss some topics I've been generally curious about.

    How often do you read? Do you read more or less in comparison to other people...ie. people in other fields?
    Have you always been considered a "reader" (and silmutaneously have you always been perceived as being extremely good at literacy/reading and writing)?
    How much do you owe your literacy skills/interest in reading to your personal/professional success? To your skills in philosophy? Or to your various interests such as philosophy?
    Do you feel like literacy is undervalued in Western culture? Wrongly taught in public education systems? How so? How should it be taught to better enhance critical thinking and communication skills? How important do you feel literacy is? Do "people not read books anymore?" How harmful is this? Likewise, how important are public libraries?
    Thoreau wrote a really good section of "reading"-particularly talking about the spiritual act. Most of my personal favourite authors/philosophers/theorists are also devout readers. I read somewhere that the key to writing well is reading well.

    I don't mean to throw a lot of random questions at you so I'll start off the discussion; I admit, I do love reading. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up, and I have autism so navigating the social world was a lot/still is, a lot for me. Books were my friends and offered me the opportunity to live an exciting life, to experience social relationships (and unconsciously prepare me/teach me) social relations. I started reading before I went to kindergarten and I remember at age six or seven, stole adult novels off the shelf of a family cottage and started reading those late at night locked in the bathroom. Needless to say I devoured libraries; my middle school library by about the end of my first year there, used to stop a few times a week to pick up books from the public library ect. ect. Used to hide in the bathroom at recess perched on a toilet seat with the stall door slightly ajar reading, just so other kids wouldn't make fun of me for sitting alone and reading.

    Also used to hide books behind my text books and read in class, and then get kicked out of class and suspended for it. And while formal schooling and keeping up with in more recent years, social demands, has forced me to take hiatus from "pleasure" reading (that means reading not directly coordinated to school) I still try to read as much as I can, non-fiction more so than the fiction of my earlier years, and I feel "dumber" and less literate, and even a bit lost and hollow when I don't read/stop reading for awhile-recently my anxiety was so bad that I found it hard to even read stuff for school. It made me realize once again, how important reading is, not only just for good literacy/communication/vocabulary skills (you learn like a new word every 500 words you read or something), but for critical thinking/abstract/empathy skills, it allows you to assume the position of other people; it teaches you subjectivity, knowledge/facts, FOCUS. All of these, in my opinion are paramount to any other skills you must learn (one doesn't really learn to read on one's own though it is possible), and something I feel is heavily undervalued contemporarily.

    I'm not saying that people in the past "read more" or were "better readers", but rather that due to the lesser opportunities for entertainment pastimes (ie. before television ect.) people had more opportunity, time, and reason to pursue reading; therefore it was more "respected" and popular a hobby and lifestyle. People discussed books with each other like we discuss movies or sports (at least, that's me generalizing). More time in education was spent on proper reading, writing, and grammar skills, including punctuation and form. Today, literacy education is severely lacking to the point where I can still make a decent living writing/editing people's essays for them because the quality of their writing is so bad that they will fail a class. No one knows how to cite. Very few people, especially people my age, read, or have picked up a book since being forced to in school ect.

    I have always been concerned by this trend, as was my mother who is a librarian, and now as an adult seeing this illiteracy in adults, I am downright disheartened. Another reason why I still hold that education is the key to improvement/social change...especially literacy education. Canada may be a literate country; but the so-called literacy seems sub-par, especially statistically; including the attack that public libraries are under funding wise-despite showing that public libraries add some hundred thousands of dollars to the economy every year due to their resource value.

    In the USA google literacy rates by State and you will see what I mean, these are the lowest eight states from least-worse to absolute worse.
    Louisiana.
    West Virginia.
    South Carolina.
    Florida.
    Alabama.
    Mississippi.
    Nevada.
    Hawaii.

    Is there any coincidence that states also are considered the most "bigoted" with issues such as racism ect. ect. including the more recent abortion law in Alabama, and alarming rates of religious cults? Hawaii is the most recent colonized state (1959), so that also explains why it is considered the "lowest" considering the cultural genocide and exploitation that has been going on for centuries?

    Just musing here. But let's talk about books.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    You are a trouble maker.

    "Education" is probably one of the most contentious topics. Everybody is in favor of it, but once we start discussing the details all hell breaks loose. We could, for instance, get into a fight about whether adults obtaining literacy improves employment opportunities significantly. Whatever kept them from literacy prior to adulthood might be an enduring disadvantage. Or not. The last time I checked, the evidence was weak. I'm still in favor of literacy, though.

    I live in a state where the literacy rate is, county by county, quite high, but whether the ability to read at a 8th grade level or higher corresponds to solid cultural competence is another matter. People who can read quite well may not consider climate, health, economics, politics, foreign relations, international conflicts, trade, etc. interesting or relevant to them, and so would do poorly on a survey of general knowledge.

    My general impression of high school graduates (over the last couple of decades, say) is that maybe 20% are receiving and absorbing a good, thorough general education. Maybe 30% are receiving and absorbing a somewhat deficient general education, and the remaining half are, to varying degrees, missing the boat.

    Some adults pursue lifelong learning, at least staying informed about current affairs. A large share of adults are not staying well informed about current affairs, and some adults are just out to lunch on what is going on in the world.

    What can be done? Obviously, if people stopped spending so much time watching TV or staring at their phones they could get more reading-to-become-better-informed done. Telling people this is pretty much just whistling dixie.

    There are just so many interesting things to learn about...
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    Reader here! General responses to your smattering of questions: I've been hovering around 50 books per year recently, though I've been a bit behind this year due to circumstances. Probably do at least an hour a day, if I can get to it. Was lucky to grow up in a house which put a premium on reading, and still does.

    I sometimes get asked by other how I read the volume of books I do - and I always that that it is a discipline and a habit, like going to the gym, or knitting. It has to be developed, but once you're 'there', it becomes a part of you. Short of going out to a party or a dinner, I don't go anywhere without a book.

    Never look down on those who don't read, or are not as literate as you. To be able to be well read is to be privileged - the time needed, the ability to disengage from life and it's necessities: these things are what reading need, and many do not have the opportunity, or are not in an environment that enables such opportunity, and is an indictment on our social and cultural organization, not on individuals.

    Reading is an act of temporal disengagement, among other things: it plucks you out from the currents of life and inserts you into a temporality of its own making, a kind of adjacent time, or tangential time, next to, but not of, the time of life. As such it is uniquely suited to philosophy, for it allows thought to similarly disengage and occupy it's own plane, carving a little hollow in time, like an fragile experimental laboratory insulated from the forces of life. Books and reading are an exemplary mechanism that allows one to access such hollows in time, which give thought a consistency proper to their own being. Reading is not the only way to do this, but it is an important and vital one.
  • god must be atheist
    956
    Me? Me no read. Can't. Won't. But for some reason I have a profound understanding of the lanuage and beyond. I am a published author, with two short stories having won first prize each in international short story competiitons.

    I can't read. It bores me. I lose my interest, I can't keep my attention focused.

    My skills in philosophy I attribute to the huge lot of free time I have that I can devote to solitary, speculative thinking. I don't learn from books; I learn from myself. By thinking about things and figuring them out on my own.

    I used to read up to about fifteen years of age. Then I read two two-volume books, one titled "Igy Irtok Ti" and the other, "Feljelentem az emberiseget". By Frigyes Karinthy. That did me in. Nothing compares in world literature to these two works in style, in parody, in satire. Woody Allen comes close albeit scantily, in parts of his written works. Of the old masters, Jerome K. Jerome, Stephen Leacock, Mark Twain and A.A. Milne resemble Karinthy, but from far behind him. In fact, Karinthy has himself translated works of these writers save for J.K. Jerome.

    To be fair, Karinthy's insight was not as keen as Twain's, and his stories were not as wise and intricate as Milne's. He was, however, a master stylist of language. He completely spoiled me. And to be even fairer, his characterization was as keen, consistent and flawless as both of Twain's and Milne's.

    Some literary critics argue that style is everything. I disagree, but not strongly. But Karinthy is such a tour de force, that he takes you by every element, every fibre of your existence to make you appreciate his humour.

    Up to about five or ten years ago I was able to read articles in magazines. Now those are very difficult to do for me. I currently read all articles written by Will J. Bouman (spelling? Bouwman?) published in the magazine Philosophy Now. His articles come out about twice a year.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Never look down on those who don't read, or are not as literate as you. To be able to be well read is to be privileged - the time needed, the ability to disengage from life and it's necessities: these things are what reading need, and many do not have the opportunity, or are not in an environment that enables such opportunity, and is an indictment on our social and cultural organization, not on individuals.StreetlightX

    I'm also a reader. It is a part of who I am, part of how I think of myself.

    I agree with much of what you say about non-readers, but I think there's more to it than lack of opportunity. Some people are just not readers. Their minds don't work that way, they're not very verbal. I don't think musically, visually, or spatially very much or very well. People who do can do amazing things that I can't. I can do things they can't. Some people can think empathetically, some can't. Our minds are made up differently.

    My daughter has always been a reader like me, but my two sons never were. Then, when they reached their late teens, early twenties, they started. It was great. Now we can have long interesting discussions. Buying gifts is so much easier.
  • Purple Pond
    574
    I would love to be a reader. If I could, I'd spend most of my time reading. The problem is my mind doesn't seem to want to stay put. I'm very distractible, and I don't now if it's an IQ, anxiety, ADHD, thought disorder, learning disability, memory, overthinking, comprehension, personality, stamina, cluttered mind, mood, problem. Or maybe I'm just plain old lazy.
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    I can't read. It bores me. I lose my interest, I can't keep my attention focused.god must be atheist

    Just because you are not reading War & Peace doesn't mean you are not a reader. Your posts here suggest that, at least most of the time (hehe), you read and understood other posts in the thread you are responding to.

    I used to call myself a non-reader. Then I started paying attention to all the short readings I do (this website, newspapers, magazines, wikipedia, email, etc) and I probably average an hour or two per day (to be fair, most of that time is probably spent proofreading my own posts :grimace:).
  • Grre
    138
    @Purple Pond
    Have you considered the reality perhaps mental illness does affect your focus? If you're hanging out on a philosophy forum for fun I doubt its your IQ that's shabby. My friend lost his ability to read completely (even like stuff for school, he was never a big pleasure reader) and while it got better with treatment, medication, and time, he still cannot read well nor fast, and he believes it is still an underlying symptom of his anxiety. When he stopped his meds, his focus and reading skills further deteriorated. When I suffer(ed) extreme anxiety for more than a year, I also lost much of my drive and motivation to read, which made me more anxious to read, and still I couldn't read. I couldn't really sit alone either so I guess its par for the course at that point. It got better when my life stabilized a bit and my anxiety subsided, but I still feel like a much weaker reader than I was even two years ago, and I'm hoping that once my life settles down I can return to reading like @StreetlightX noted, is akin to "getting back in shape" ect. ect.
    Try reading high, that's how I got over a lot of my anxiety when I was alone at night ect. ect. It helps with focus and interest too. Also start slow. Try Fifty Shades of Grey and go from there.

    @god must be atheist
    Up to about five or ten years ago I was able to read articles in magazines. Now those are very difficult to do for me. I currently read all articles written by Will J. Bouman (spelling? Bouwman?) published in the magazine Philosophy Now. His articles come out about twice a year.
    Why do you feel like your reading skills have been exponentially deteriorating? Was it just disinterest? I will admit I've become quite disinterred in fiction over the last year or so, it started when I became more serious into researching-and had less time for "fun" reading, and also less reason, as my life had become more social and more "fun". Now I read almost entirely non-fiction, and only delve into fiction when I want reread some of my favourites, either for a specific purpose or out of sheer boredom or lack of other materials. But I do doubt that I will avoid fiction forever, one day I want to write a great opus of fantasy.

    @StreetlightX
    50 books a year is pretty impressive. I haven't kept track of my reading a for a few years but I can only hope that my number is around there. Probably not this year. Anxiety destroyed the laser focus that came so easily to me previously.
    Never look down on those who don't read, or are not as literate as you. To be able to be well read is to be privileged - the time needed, the ability to disengage from life and it's necessities: these things are what reading need, and many do not have the opportunity, or are not in an environment that enables such opportunity, and is an indictment on our social and cultural organization, not on individuals
    You are 100% correct, I did not mean to imply that I was condescending of "non-readers", also I, more than most I've met, am the first to take circumstantial systems into account; such as the 'privileged' notion you brought up. Libraries for example are extremely important to foster reading and encourage research ect. I lived in a town of about 80k people with only one public library (with terrible parking and no space)-only one copy of even such infamous books as "Twilight" or "The Hunger Games". Nothing disheartened me more, as I was already well aware of the cultural and economic gut that was that town.

    Books and reading are an exemplary mechanism that allows one to access such hollows in time, which give thought a consistency proper to their own being. Reading is not the only way to do this, but it is an important and vital one.
    I want to write this quote out in my notebook. I love that interpretation; I have always felt that way but never found the right words beyond "accessing foreign subjective experiences and realities" which is a bit metaphysical and not always correct; because it doesn't address the concept of time-experience and perception.
    I am curious though, what other ways did you have in mind as a way to "hollow time"? Intimacy? Drugs? Hard work?
  • I like sushi
    1.4k
    In my experience most people don’t know how to read. They merely read words and say to themselves ‘Look at me reading! I’m literate!’

    Any idiot can read words, but not everyone can actually READ.
  • Grre
    138

    I used to call myself a non-reader. Then I started paying attention to all the short readings I do (this website, newspapers, magazines, wikipedia, email, etc) and I probably average an hour or two per day (to be fair, most of that time is probably spent proofreading my own posts :grimace:).
    I'm dead. You just made me realize I always forget to include my online reading/research/writing/communicating in my reading tallies; which is fallacious of me because these readings take up the majority of my free time, leaving very little for 'book reading'. I also laugh, it too takes me a good 2-3 hours to draft a reply. Probably because I'm also usually high and exhausted and have "Corner Gas" on.

    Any idiot can read words, but not everyone can actually READ.
    @I like sushi
    Very true. But also spelling is severely lacking. This though I'm beginning to add up to a looser cultural deviation from strict and precise punctuation and spelling to a more open and heterogeneous form of dialogue that shifts from context to context medium to medium (ie. like texting language "LOL").

    @Bitter Crank
    ↪Grre You are a trouble maker.
    — Bitter Crank
    Guess so. Someone has to play Socrates sometimes I guess. Also much of the academic/historical/literary side of this forum I get to receive in formal school, so instead I opt to discuss more general/socio-political topics. Forr the majority of the time I feel very alone, misunderstood, and under-stimulated, so being on this forum and getting into squabbles is good for me.
    What do you think can be done to improve literary education and consequently, the educational success of students?
  • I like sushi
    1.4k
    I’d rather read something with poor spelling and punctuation than something that lacks depth of thought and/or aesthetic weight.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    What do you think can be done to improve literary education and consequently, the educational success of students?Grre

    One has to begin very early by talking to children - a lot, and nicely - so that they accumulate a big supply of words as soon as possible. Then it is important to get little children interested in books (start with the thick-cardboard paged books). Read to the children, encourage them to read. When children see their parents reading, when children see books around the house, that is a good thing.

    Language is nothing if not used, so engage in conversation with your young child. Encourage them to listen, speak, read, and in time, write.

    Children first learn to read, then they use reading to learn content. (well, of course children are learning content before they can read, but...)

    Unfortunately, children whose early language experiences are impoverished (they hear far fewer words spoken than other children, and more of those words are command words like shut up, sit down, go away... or curse words directed at them.

    Children whose early language experiences are impoverished are disadvantaged from the get go. It is very difficult for these children, or their schools, to remediate the early deficiencies. Children from these impoverished backgrounds will fall behind children with richer language experiences, and they may stay behind. By the 4th or 5th grade, they may be permanently disadvantaged. (The early deficit is very difficult to fill in at a later date.)

    Non-English speaking students may be at no disadvantage IF in their own language they have a rich language experience. But the later they begin to learn English, the more difficult it gets to acquire -- this is true for everybody. So non-English speaking adults will just not be as successful as 6 year olds in learning English. One hopes that non-English speaking students are being encouraged to read, speak, and write in their native language.

    Before the 6th grade, absolutely before middle school, children who have not acquired adequate language skill are generally screwed, even if serious efforts are made to remediate their deficiencies. They just won't be able to use reading to acquire content efficiently. (EXCEPT: People can be very adaptive, and if they are ambitious, bright, flexible, and creative they will find ways around their deficiencies.
  • I like sushi
    1.4k
    I believe a larger factor to be social interaction. I don’t believe ‘language’ is a skill exactly. Being engaged in our inner/outer environment allows for cognitive development - communicating with others doesn’t require literacy (I’m just considering another viewpoint here; the artistic sensibility of some being far stronger than the need to express ideas in a more ... er ... verbally articulated form).

    Teaching is essentially ‘facilitating’ - providing an environment for the student to explore at their own pace, making their own mistakes and learning how to learn. Of course in mass education such a ‘system’ is either expensive to implement or could possibly cause huge disruption during the transitionary period.

    Parents should certainly take time out to read to their children if they can - if not then they should do what they can to get someone else to fill-in for them (no research in this area shows anything but positive results).
  • StreetlightX
    4.3k
    I want to write this quote out in my notebook. I love that interpretation; I have always felt that way but never found the right words beyond "accessing foreign subjective experiences and realities" which is a bit metaphysical and not always correct; because it doesn't address the concept of time-experience and perception.

    I am curious though, what other ways did you have in mind as a way to "hollow time"? Intimacy? Drugs? Hard work?
    Grre

    It's a lovely phrase right? I borrowed it from Merleau-Ponty, who uses the language of the hollow in a different context (for him, we are hollows in time), but which I think is really beautiful and useful on its own. I think we create little hollows or eddies in time (to change the metaphor) all the time - in play and in games, in art, in conversation, in writing, in work, artistic practice, certainly in intimacy... basically anything that disengages us from our more familiar rhythms of hunger, sleep, and breath even.

    If I privilege the written word though, its because the words have have a particular power that other modes of disengagement do not: words can be entirely self-referential. One can use words that refer to nothing at all in the world, so much so that you can create entire new 'worlds' with them (Tolkien's world, Lucas's world). In the language of semiotics, words can be employed as 'symbols', rather than 'icons' or 'indexes', which is just again a fancy way of saying that they don't have to refer to anything in the real world at all to 'work' - their 'deietic' function can be entirely erased. Some detail on this here, if you're interested).

    There's a beautiful quote by Elizabeth Grosz - one of my favourite - on how philosophy, art, and science can all contribute to 'enlarging the universe' in their own way, creating what she calls 'small pieces of chaos' in which chaos can be 'elaborated' on - these can also be understood as ways in which one 'hollows time':

    "Art is the opening up of the universe to becoming-other, just as science is the opening up of the universe to practical action, to becoming-useful and philosophy is the opening up of the universe to thought-becoming. ... What philosophy can offer art is not a theory of art, an elaboration of its silent or undeveloped concepts, but what philosophy and art share in common—their rootedness in chaos, their capacity to ride the waves of a vibratory universe without direction or purpose, in short, their capacity to enlarge the universe by enabling its potential to be otherwise, to be framed through concepts and affects. They are among the most forceful ways in which culture generates a small space of chaos within chaos where chaos can be elaborated, felt, thought." (Grosz, Territory, Chaos, Art)
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    As to how important reading is for doing philosophy--especially how important reading philosophy is for doing philosophy--neither Socrates nor Plato were able to read much philosophy, because not much existed in written form at that time. Certainly compared to what's available now, they wouldn't have been able to read much period.

    That's not to say that there's no value in reading philosophy and reading other things for doing philosophy, of course. But one shouldn't think that one can't proceed if one isn't that well-read, and one shouldn't think something like, "I'm just going to wait until I've read enough to start doing it myself." For many things, "waiting until you're prepared" to do it is just a means of perpetual procrastination, so that you'd never actually do the activity in question, because there's always more preparation that one could do.

    In many cases, we can easily see that reading a lot makes you familiar with a lot of things that others have said, but it doesn't necessarily result in you reasoning any better or being any wiser or more intelligent.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    That's not to say that there's no value in reading philosophy and reading other things for doing philosophy, of course. But one shouldn't think that one can't proceed if one isn't that well-read, and one shouldn't think something like, "I'm just going to wait until I've read enough to start doing it myself." For many things, "waiting until you're prepared" to do it is just a means of perpetual procrastination, so that you'd never actually do the activity in question, because there's always more preparation that one could do.Terrapin Station

    I don't read a lot of philosophy, but when I do, I've found that the writing that helps me most is something I can fit into my current understanding. It adds credibility to what I already think and also expands and extends it. It also changes it and sometimes sets me off in a new direction.

    The point I'm trying to make is that there has to be something there to start with. In my experience, philosophy won't give you what you need unless you've already put something on the table.
  • Purple Pond
    574
    Have you considered the reality perhaps mental illness does affect your focus?Grre
    I do have mental illnesses: depression, anxiety, and perhaps ADHD (psychiatrist asked me if I got evaluated), and that may well be the cause of my lack of focus. Although, my lack of focus may also be due to any number of things I mentioned in my last post. There's so many things that can affect your focus.
  • thewonder
    412

    Writing is just a means to cover-up whatever havoc a person has created in the world. If the havoc was worth creating, then they are worth reading. Everything else is a form of intellectual repression.
  • Grre
    138
    @Bitter Crank
    One has to begin very early by talking to children - a lot, and nicely - so that they accumulate a big supply of words as soon as possible. Then it is important to get little children interested in books (start with the thick-cardboard paged books). Read to the children, encourage them to read. When children see their parents reading, when children see books around the house, that is a good thing.

    I took what you said very seriously today. The talking to children part. We always read them a morning story, and I've always been a big encourager of children and reading. But the talking part, it's true that with very young children its easy to ignore them/issue them only commands, especially when you're busy and there's 16 of them and only one of you...but today I sat in the playground and talked to this boy named Samuel for probably 20 minutes HAHA he's 5 and loves sharks, so he was talking to me about sharks for all of those 20 minutes. Taking the time to listen, I think you're right, is so important. I always try to talk to even the youngest children like adults, same tone, I don't mince my words (ie. dumb down things) I was even trying to explain theory of relativity at one point (we were talking about space and how far away the moon is). They probably didn't get it. But that of course, is never the point.

    Do you think English is one of the hardest languages to learn as an adult? I am a native speaker of English, but even still, I consider myself to have above average writing/reading literacy skills (it does not show here of course, when I am rushing and usually exhausted typing this) but at times, struggle with such niceties as punctuation and grammar.


    Parents should certainly take time out to read to their children if they can.
    Yes they should. Should be one of the key points of parenting-just like teaching your children to wash their hands ect. Read read read. My mother read to every night up until probably the fourth grade, and even then, she would still occasionally read aloud novels for me to enjoy. I owe my literacy almost entirely to her. Not to school. They took my books away from me. My nonfiction reading skills I had to self-teach, including note taking systems.
    I think by literacy I meant communication skills as well...for example, my boyfriend is not a very good reader or writer, and as a result I feel his thinking is very limited-he also struggles to articulate his ideas or beliefs, we get into a lot of disagreements due to miscommunication deficits, and as a child he had a speech impediment and it still shows...I've been encouraging reading time with him, and he does read sometimes but its an arduous and slow process and I'm not sure how much of it he absorbs or fully understands. A lot of the people I know struggle with these issues; regardless of their so-called "intelligence" level. Some of the smartest people I have met, people excelling in maths ect. can't string a sentence together to save their lives. But being able to communicate effectively, efficiently, and properly, is the key to navigating the social world we find ourselves in. If no one can understand you. No one can help you. Using big words/precise words are meant to articulate specific meanings to prevent misunderstanding or ambiguity; while "easier" words might work, it is more efficient to use the most precise word...something else my boyfriend struggled with when we first started dating. I know it frustrated him when I would speak (using the 'big' words) and he couldn't understand what I was talking about, he would get quite angry at me actually, but he has now admitted that dating at me has at least expanded his vocabulary-on average I probably define about a word a day for him.
  • god must be atheist
    956
    all the short readings I do (this website, newspapers, magazines, wikipedia, email, etc) and I probably average an hour or two per day (to be fair, most of that time is probably spent proofreading my own posts :grimace:).ZhouBoTong

    I concur. I LOVE reading my own posts (and short stories, essays, etc.) It's equivalent to a person loving his or her own voice in speech.
  • god must be atheist
    956
    Now I (...) only delve into fiction when I want reread some of my favourites,Grre
    I think of re-reading some of my old favourites, but can't bring myself to actually read them.
  • Grre
    138
    @StreetlightX
    I found the thread you linked. What a ride. I agree that poetry is gesture-perhaps why poetry is its own form of 'written word'. The rest of it went quite over my head. I wish you could explain it to me in person HAHA. I was actually just reading up on a bit of Godel today-it was the first time I had ever looked into philosophy of math, or rather, metamathematics. For someone who barely finished tenth grade math, this is new found land. I obviously, at the very least, need to read some Merleau-Ponty (I'll have to add him to my list of theorists I need to read before I consider myself worthy of being called a 'philosopher')

    @Purple Pond
    There's so many things that can affect your focus.
    Focus is perception within one's subjective reality-or Umwelt as Uekell described . Every Umwelt has different 'focus' receptors, meaning depending on our physiology, context, environment, and desires, we focus on different 'tones' at a different time. Uekell was kind of a biologist, so he's speaking broadly-not just people, he actually gives the example of a fly. A fly focuses on things useful/comprehendible in his environment. Take a room, and the fly focuses on the light, or walls/windows to land on. Give a dog the same room, and what focus 'tones' light up for him? Probably not a table, unless it has food on it. A bookshelf is useless to a dog-but a comfy bed, while useless to a fly, has the 'bed' tone a dog might want when said dog is tired. Or for example, take how when we are desperately scrambling around for a writing utensil, our "tone" in the focus of our Umwelt shifts suddenly to a super specific task-finding a specific writing utensil, thus blurring out say, our stapler, or the fire alarm on the wall above us. Does that make a little sense?
    I am sorry to hear that you too suffer from anxiety and other related issues. I hope that if you do choose to be evaluated/and or medicated/treatment, that your focus may improve.


    I concur. I LOVE reading my own posts (and short stories, essays, etc.) It's equivalent to a person loving his or her own voice in speech.

    God what arrogant shrubs we are. So true though. I remember the first time I read my own writing (a novel project) back in middle school, and I lost track of time...never had I lost track of time reading my own writing before-I thought to myself, "oh my god, I'm not that bad!"

    Re reading old books is great, it's like hanging out with close friends. You know exactly how good it is going to be-and you pick up on nuances you didn't catch the first time. Or maybe that's just me being autistic, and overrating the value of repetition and sameness.
  • god must be atheist
    956
    Re reading old books is great, it's like hanging out with close friends. You know exactly how good it is going to be-and you pick up on nuances you didn't catch the first time. Or maybe that's just me being autistic, and overrating the value of repetition and sameness.Grre

    Again I concur wholeheartedly. I just had re-read my favourites so many times in the past, that I expect no new nuances to crop their heads. Which is most likely a mistake. There are nuances everywhere that you hadn't before noticed, because appreciating art of any form is very much dependent on the mood you are in at the time.
  • Grre
    138
    @god must be atheist
    Look at us concurring wholeheartedly! Art is all about nuance. And subjective feeling. And subjective response. Most noticeable is when you re-read a favourite childhood book (or book you read some years back) and now realize it has an almost entirely different meaning to you. Or I guess you hate it completely. The first time I read Eat Pray Love for example I was in grade five, I read it again four years later and guess what-I actually understood more of the adult subject mater! Imagine that (haha). I've noticed the same thing with music too-songs mean different things to me at different points in my life.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    “Do you think English is one of the hardest languages to learn as an adult? I am a native speaker of English, but even still, I consider myself to have above average writing/reading literacy skills (it does not show here of course, when I am rushing and usually exhausted typing this) but at times, struggle with such niceties as punctuation and grammar.“... Grre

    I do not know whether English is harder than Chinese or Swahili for instance. English shed a lot of stuff that makes some other European languages more complicated, like gender, part-of-speech changing word forms (can’t think of the word for that), and so on. English retains some, but not a lot.

    Spelling is probably tough for some people in any language.

    You sound like a good teacher. Keep up the good work.
  • god must be atheist
    956
    Do you think English is one of the hardest languages to learn as an adult?Bitter Crank

    All languages are hard to learn as adults. English, due to its simple structure of noun-verb agreement, practically non-existent adjective, noun, and verb conjugations, and a somewhat looser word-order than other languages, can be spoken almost immediately fluently (but in a broken way) once you acquire about ten words. In other languages the complexities of grammar make that impossible.

    However, they say the more you know English, the harder it gets. Did you know that you use a different pronoun for two people as opposed to some people, and many people? "Neither of us finished grade seven" would be incorrectly said this way, if you only talk about two persons: "None of us finished grade seven".

    Verb tenses are incredibly hard in English, if you are bent to use them properly. At least for a foreigner. "I went to school" and "I've gone to school" are different in usage not only as a rule dictates when to use perfect and when to use imperfect, but also as a difference in idiomatic meaning.

    This is what it is: the rules of English grammar are replete with idiomatic exceptions. On the surface its grammar is deceptive simple; it's its exceptions the learning of which make or break a learner's success.

    Then there is the lot of words to memorize. English had forty years ago one million words (according to some rough estimates); today the rough estimate is 2000000 words. A common man uses maybe 2000 words regularly and in extreme cases in his lifetime; a writer, about 10000 words; and Bill Shakespeare used I think something like 25000 different words. And you know how hard it is to read him.

    The active (used by the self) vocabulary of an average adult native speaker of English is around 2000 words; the passive (not used but understood) vocabulary of the same person is about 10000-20000 words.

    I quoted these figures from memory, I did not use a reference material. They are here for your scrutiny.
  • Amity
    804
    Do "people not read books anymore?" How harmful is this? Likewise, how important are public libraries?
    Thoreau wrote a really good section of "reading"-particularly talking about the spiritual act. Most of my personal favourite authors/philosophers/theorists are also devout readers. I read somewhere that the key to writing well is reading well.
    Grre

    Just musing here. But let's talk about books.Grre

    People do 'read' books still. In different ways, times, places.
    Public libraries are important - as is where they situated. My local has moved 3 times in my lifetime. I haven't always lived here but I know all about the library !

    I discovered libraries by following a friend, aged about 5. It was part of an old institute. Next to the school. Very handy.Then, it was very austere and quite scary. Silence enforced by a stern librarian. However, I loved the magic of books and escaped into other worlds.

    Much later it was a stand-alone, concrete modern thing, not so central. The librarian seemed more interested in talking about holidays and emigrating.

    Currently it is part of a vibrant community centre, attached to the school.
    It is amazing. Young children are introduced to the joys of reading by visiting in class.
    In their joining, the librarians are part of their journey. And more besides.
    And I had worried that they were dying out...

    This Guardian article might be of interest to you. The comments too.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2019/aug/14/how-to-restore-your-books-habit-reading-social-media#comment-131966175

    I am no longer as absorbed in reading as I once was. I lighten my load with fiction.
    And yes, reading is important as an external boost to thinking. Even a short article can be thought provoking and philosophical. It don't need to be heavy.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    English is one of the German languages, Anglo-Saxon. Despite all of the words it has borrowed from other languages, it’s grammar has been stable for a long time. It has become less inflected, which makes that part of the language simpler.

    I am amazed, sometimes, at the obscurity of some of the words some authors use.

    The “corpus” of Anglo-Saxon words is maybe 10,000 - 15,000 words. After 1066 (William the Conqueror) a batch of French words were added. Lord of the Rings was written in about 80% Anglo-Saxon words, with maybe 20% common French-derived words.

    Shakespeare invented quite a few words; a lot of words we used were invented by authors, which is how we got so many Latin and Greek based words. Shakespeare’s language is, of course, “dramatic” stage language. It doesn’t make for easy reading.
  • god must be atheist
    956
    Agree with what you wrote.

    Please consider that third person singular possessive adjective in the neutral gender is written as "its", not "it's". This is THE most common spelling mistake made by degreed (but not in English or in journalism) people.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k

    Yes, thank you. It is not surprising that people get confused by its and it's. Most words are made possessive by adding an 's to the word. Not it. it's = its. Why do we make contractions of two words with 4 letters anyway? Just say "it is". But I use it's all the time. It's seemingly easier, faster, cheaper, better.

    Now in self-defense, I entered that comment in which you found the error on a tablet which eagerly spells words the way it wants to spell them. I'm blaming the gadgetry.

    I am, by the way, a person degreed in English. So, fuck me.
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    I concur. I LOVE reading my own posts (and short stories, essays, etc.) It's equivalent to a person loving his or her own voice in speech.god must be atheist

    Damn. I got to learn to own it like that :smile: Here I am reading my own posts out of neurotic insecurity. Your version sounds so much better.

    Again I concur wholeheartedly. I just had re-read my favourites so many times in the past, that I expect no new nuances to crop their heads. Which is most likely a mistake. There are nuances everywhere that you hadn't before noticed, because appreciating art of any form is very much dependent on the mood you are in at the time.god must be atheist

    This rings true to me. I actually don't like MOST fiction so when I read (or watch) a story that I like, I am happy to re-read. I found that with the books I like, I actually liked them even more, on the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th read. However, after the 5th or 6th read, I need like a decade off before I will get the same enjoyment again.
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