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Old 06-12-2011, 02:32 AM   #1
hermes
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Perfect combination of ancient and modern reading?

I admit it - I am ambivalent about the wisdom of reading as a past time. Especially as a past time - that very concept.I am reminded of a western monk, a Tibetan Buddhist monk I used to chat with sometimes on the street. We were talking about the habit of reading. He suggested that people read out of a neurosis, a nervous wish to busy their minds with useless information, ideas and mental images because they are afraid of the content of their own minds. 'Well, that's why I read", was my immediate reaction.

Anyway, aside from that philosophical consideration of reading, I am contemplating the social usefulness of reading. According to what I see on the 'idiot box' (grampa's word for television), on one of the few stations with anything edifying, Knowledge Network's 'Empire of the Word', private silent reading is a relatively new phenomena - 14th or 15th century if my memory serves me correctly. I used to tell my ESL students that reading with lips reading is taken to be the sign of a moron, but this is actually the way we read for centuries. According to my own (oops) reading, History of Private Life, a very tedious tome written by French scholars (their writing style or that of the translators drives me crazy), it wasn't until the later 17th century that people read books alone.

So, to my real point...

I am captivating by the idea of combining social reading and technical advances, viz. group reading from an ereader. Small groups of 4-8 sitting under a tree listening to someone, the most literate of them, reading aloud some classic like Man of LaMancha.

Last edited by hermes; 06-14-2011 at 02:14 AM. Reason: spelling, left one incorrect as doing so would screw up thread
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:02 AM   #2
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I admit it - I am ambivalent about the wisdom of reading as a past time. Especially as a past time - that very concept.I am reminded of a western monk, a Tibetan Buddhist monk I used to chat with sometimes on the street. We were talking about the habit of reading. He suggested that people read out of a neurosis, a nervous wish to busy their minds with useless information, ideas and mental images because they are afraid of the content of their own minds. 'Well, that's why I read", was my immediate reaction.
Mine would be more along the lines of "You have a very limited imigination, if that's the only motive you can think of. Or perhaps, as is so very common, you see in others what you see in yourself. I read for escapism, pure and simple."

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Anyway, aside from that philosophical consideration of reading, I am contemplating the social usefulness of reading. According to what I see on the 'idiot box' (grampa's word for television), on one of the few stations with anything edifying, Knowledge Network's 'Empire of the Word', private silent reading is a relatively new phenomena - 14th of 15th century if my memory serves me correctly. I used to tell my ESL students that reading with lips reading is taken to be the sign of a moron, but this is actually the way we read for centuries. According to my own (oops) reading, History of Private Life, a very tedious tome written by French scholars (their writing style or that of the translators drives me crazy), it wasn't until the later 17th century that people read books alone.
Unlike speech, reading is not an inborn ability. (You cannot stop a young child from learning spoken language if it's spoken in their presence.) Our brains physically rewire themselves around the ability to read, and the plasticity to so do fades at a fairly young age. What that means is that if you don't start learning to read at a very, very young age, you will never develop very far in your ability to do so. Education of children that young was pretty rare prior to the Renaissance.

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So, to my real point...

I am captivating by the idea of combining social reading and technical advances, viz. group reading from an ereader. Small groups of 4-8 sitting under a tree listening to someone, the most literate of them, reading aloud some classic like Man of LaMancha.
Such things happen, though I'd suggest you'd want the one with the best reading voice, not the most literate. The two are quite different, you know.
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:38 AM   #3
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reading aloud some classic like Man of LaMancha.
Psst, "Man of La Mancha" is the musical and the film, the book is called "Don Quixote" or, in full: "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha"
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:42 AM   #4
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I admit it - I am ambivalent about the wisdom of reading as a past time.
Do you perhaps mean "pastime"?
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:55 AM   #5
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For most of human history few people knew how to read. Most people were busy trying to survive and didn't have the time to learn and besides that writing materials were expensive. Even in the 19th century children used the slate for most writing practice because paper was so precious. And of course people relied on memory including rhymes such as "Thirty days hath September.." to remember things. Storytelling was something done on cold winter nights when there wasn't much else that could be done, and of course the wandering storyteller also served as a source of news about what was going on in the outer world. Monks were some of the few people who could read (and even some monks were illiterate). There is a story of a book that some monks used as kindling for their cook fire. It turned out to be a copy of the scriptures they were burning, but since they couldn't read they didn't know that til most of the copy had been used. Probably one reason people didn't read books alone for so long was that few people in the group could read.
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:57 AM   #6
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Apart from the other issues raised in this post I do wonder if private reading is indeed such a "recent" phenomenon. I seem to recall that wealthy Romans did have private studies in ancient times and so did to my knowledge the ancient Chinese. It is no surprise that in Europe private reading started at the time when books became affordable thanks to book printing.
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Old 06-12-2011, 05:17 AM   #7
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Hey, 48 bucks for the hard cover, 20 bucks for the paperback, but only $1.99 for the ebook!

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Read-Ficti.../dp/081425151X
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:43 AM   #8
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I am captivating by the idea of combining social reading and technical advances, viz. group reading from an ereader. Small groups of 4-8 sitting under a tree listening to someone, the most literate of them, reading aloud some classic like Man of LaMancha.
You go ahead and dream that impossible dream.
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:45 AM   #9
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You go ahead and dream that impossible dream.
LOL
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Old 06-12-2011, 08:09 AM   #10
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I am captivating by the idea of combining social reading and technical advances, viz. group reading from an ereader. Small groups of 4-8 sitting under a tree listening to someone, the most literate of them, reading aloud some classic like Man of LaMancha.
For some of the eReaders you don't need a literate or otherwise person reading aloud. You just activate the text-to-voice function and then your eReader can read to everyone.

I won't speak to the quality of that option though.
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:42 AM   #11
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I can easily imagine a group of people sitting under a tree with ereaders all being streamed a video feed of the author reading.

"The word is a virus"

The thoughts of one mind intertwining with another.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:17 AM   #12
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Apart from the other issues raised in this post I do wonder if private reading is indeed such a "recent" phenomenon. I seem to recall that wealthy Romans did have private studies in ancient times and so did to my knowledge the ancient Chinese. It is no surprise that in Europe private reading started at the time when books became affordable thanks to book printing.

What CommonReader said.

Of course people couldn't read alone if they didn't have books.

My response to the OP's pretentious monk friend would have been, 'Whatcha smokin', dude?' I never heard such nonsense.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:54 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by hermes
I am reminded of a western monk, a Tibetan Buddhist monk I used to chat with sometimes on the street. We were talking about the habit of reading. He suggested that people read out of a neurosis, a nervous wish to busy their minds with useless information, ideas and mental images because they are afraid of the content of their own minds. 'Well, that's why I read", was my immediate reaction.
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"So I jump ship in Hong Kong and I make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas."

"A looper?"

"A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, 'Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.' And he says, 'Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.' So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."
Hermes... our very own Carl Spackler.

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Old 06-12-2011, 11:58 AM   #14
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He suggested that people read out of a neurosis, a nervous wish to busy their minds with useless information, ideas and mental images because they are afraid of the content of their own minds. 'Well, that's why I read", was my immediate reaction.
Are you kidding me???!?!?!

*breathe* *gasp* Okay.

Sorry, but that sounds like a load of pretentious crap to me.

I'm not even sure how the first and second paragraph lead to the "point" of your post there at the end. (While I do believe reading is socially useful, I don't necessarily see tree-shaded reading groups as the epitome of usefulness.)
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Old 06-12-2011, 02:59 PM   #15
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Sorry, but that sounds like a load of pretentious crap to me.
Doesn't surprise me. For most of religion, philosophy, and "spirituality", Surgeon's Law is wildly optimistic.
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