just cuz everybody's got a baby doesn't make it night

Shome Dasgupta has been putting together an excellent series at the blog The Laughing Yeti called "On Reading," in which writers offer pithy 'graphs of thoughts on reading/on why we read/how to read/what reading is/what it's good for/what's its goof score/etc. I contributed. My entry is up for May Day on The Laughing Yeti, and you should definitely visit the blog to read other thoughts from Roxane Gay, Caleb J. Ross, Stephen Elliot, Mel Bosworth, William Walsh, Jac Jemc, J.A. Tyler, Molly Gaudry, and soon more. Plus Shome uses {}'s in an interesting way. Here are my yellow thoughts on reading:

"Reading is over there in a here house. Reading is fruitful psychotic installation art. When I'm reading, I like to forget I'm reading, but I like to remember that I'm forgetting. It is most fun, for me, to imagine vocality as the genesis of language. Sure, semiotics, but there's a team in your brain that doesn't know the difference between the sentence "He walked into the room" and someone actually walking into a room. That team is driving. Also there are mirror neurons that make you wince when the quarterback goes down. Sometimes, if I don't like the chips I'm eating, I read the ad copy, and then they really do taste bolder, I swear. Like boulders. The ability to read is a privilege; the ability to read well is a sleep killer. If you just accidentally thought of dead sheep, you're my kind of reader. When I visit, I try to act kind--so goes the read act. No one ever wishes me good luck when I tell them I'm going to read, but I wish a lot of things I never tell, and I wonder about the wishing of others, which is why somebody put two eyes in the middle of the word look."


Mel Bosworth said...


JScap said...

"Reading is over there in a here house"-- that's fantastic, man, thanks for sharing this. And also the link to "On Reading."

I've been thinking a lot lately about reading-as-immersion, and how what we're all really seeking is, as you say, "to forget I'm reading, but...to remember that I'm forgetting." It seems like some people prefer to achieve this state intellectually, THEN viscerally; others, vice versa; others, as much at the same time as possible. Different routes to the same magical state.

All of this reminds me of a moment in Calvino's "If on a winter's night a traveler" (which I'm reading right now for the first time, my goodness) where one character (sometimes called the Other Reader) is evaluating a novel: "I like it very much...still, I wish the things I read weren't all present, so solid you can touch them; I would like to a feel a presence around them, something else, you don't know quite what, the sign of some unknown thing..."

Immersion: being a passive-active vessel for the lovely unknown and larger "something else." (Maybe?)

Mike Young said...

hey joe, that is a good calvino moment. have you read his essay "cybernetics and ghosts"? really terrific. meshes talk of narrative and language based writing in an effort to understand the lineage of story and its role in "the human tribe."

i like the idea, actually, of mutually passive/activte/activated vessels. blindfolded camp games. text as the gimmick of ouija board jitter, reader/writer as doing the real work there in the nerves

JScap said...

Thanks for the rec, Mike. The title alone sounds amazing, I'll definitely check it out.

Text-as-ouija-board-jitter: what a neat way to think about it; I love the connotation of "summoning" that's attached to that, the idea of an extra presence that emerges letter-by-letter, whether you're reading or writing...

s.d. said...

Hi Mike--hey, I hope all is well. Just wanted to thank you again for taking part in the series :)