You, dear reader, are no longer the reader; you are the author. I am now one of your readers, or more exactly, at this point, your only reader. You may be asking “How are we going to do this?” To be perfectly frank with you I don’t really know, so let’s get promptly started.
You, who are now the writer, should start off this conversation even though we will be simultaneously active.
“OK. This is not my first time writing but it is my first time at authorship. I hope you, new reader, do not get ‘reader’s block.’ If you do we may be here for a long time. I would hate to spend eternity (and the rest of my life) stuck on one page of paper. Of course I could always write something like ‘THIS PAGE IS NOT INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK’ but that would only get me to the next blank page. It would help if you could give me some type of signal or sign as you read along. That way I may be able to stay just a few words ahead of you. That would work and we could progress without too much difficulty. Here we go.”
“IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES YET IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES – – – – – –
Oh come now, dear author, you can be more original than that. It has such a familiar ring. Let me try reading again. This time just let your self go and write whatever comes to mind (or whatever I read).
“It appears to me that being an author is not something that a person does once; even though he may only author one piece of work. What I mean to say is that each reader ‘sees’ what he wishes or (as Schopenhauer would say) wills to ‘see.’ He actually sees nothing but only remembers things and connects snippets of memory together the way he wills them to be connected together.”
You are doing great. I hope my reading of this interruption does not hamper your style.
“Style is not just the prerogative of the author but also the reader. For example; if the reader favors the style of the author he will continue on with the reading. In fact he may not have ever encountered that style but finds it enchanting (like an exotic female). It may even create new ideas within the reader due to the enchantment of the style. On the other hand if the style of the author is offensive or incompatible with the reader he may lose interest in the work and stop reading.”
You have me there. I remember several books that had to be closed due to the style. One in particular was “Being and Time” by Heidegger. Of course I am not really sure if that book was due to style or depth of material. Maybe I was not up to par for that level of reading.
“As you read along with my writing there are times when you may think I am a little touched. Ask yourself if it is not you that are somewhat daffy. After all, it is your memory snippets that are being combined to form whatever thoughts you are having. Also, (if I may be so forward as to ask) why did you agree to become the reader of this essay? That was more than a little dim-witted, was it not?”
That’s the trouble with all you new authors. Once you get the ink flowing you become (as you say) ‘more than a little’ arrogant. You better hope that I don’t stop reading or you will really be in big trouble.
“There are times when you readers return to open a previously read book. You may wish to clarify a point that the author made. Quite often, after the re-reading, you , as the reader, see a completely different point of view. Books are like that. They are coy, changeable, mysterious and somewhat bewildering. The words become re-arranged, sentences are omitted or added, while whole paragraphs appear or disappear. Yet no pages are lost or added. The book had 237 pages last year and 237 pages this year. However, it is true that the longer a book sets on the shelf between readings the more opportunity it has to make changes to itself. And why not? You, dear reader, had the same length of time and opportunity to make changes to yourself. You have added or deleted or even modified snippets to your memory. Shouldn’t a book have the same rights as you?”
Wow! My reading sure has improved since you started writing. Don’t stop now. I am on a roll.
“And I am very pleased, dear reader, that you are connecting the dots together. Perhaps it is time for me to point out other anomalies of reading. Myopia is not simply a condition where the lens of the eye focuses an image before it reaches the retina. It is also a condition of the mind; a lack of foresight; if you will allow Webster his second definition. It may also be a condition of discernment. But who’s discernment? One man’s fuzzy thinking may be another man’s clarity. One man’s justice may be another man’s vengeance. One man’s eroticism may be another man’s smut. Therefore the same reading by two different men will result in two separate interpretations. Likewise, two readings by the same man, separated by time, will result in two separate findings (unless, of course, the man is a mule-headed person stuck in the box that he calls ‘life’).
Whoa! Hold on there Mr. Author. Those are some pretty harsh statements even if I did read them myself. You know that if I accept your thesis that I can also block your writing. This could be done simply by re-reading your last paragraph several times; and then several times again. I would tell you that I am attempting to see the crux of your idea from several points of view. You would not be able to write anything new until I finished my re-read. You would be the equivalent of a CD stuck on one track of your song. Only after I decided to stop reading would you be able to continue on with your simultaneous writing.
“To the contrary my good reader. While you are re-reading that last paragraph (several times or not) your mind will be bouncing from one perspective to another, from one book to another, from one past conversation to another, from one snippet to another. You see, humans are doomed to this wandering, the random creativeness of thought (whether activated by reading or surroundings). These thoughts are doomed by random perspectives, past cogitations, recent meditations, overall rumination, simple pondering, or a little musing; all this bound together with an ample amount of consideration. So – – – – even though you thought you were concentrating, your mind was off on its own; creating new and different vistas with each word. This backs up my previous argument that each reader (or one reader with separate readings) will glean different perspectives.”
I must admit that you are correct in that statement. My mind even wanders when I am supposed to be reading the gospel in church.
“Well – – – there you are. You finally see the light. Thank you.”
Do you think all of us readers are like that or are some able to concentrate more aptly?
“That is an excellent question. Yes, you are probably correct in assuming that some readers read what they see on the page and not much more. There may be more than one reason for this. For example; the reader may be seeking to be carried along with the author’s thoughts. The shame of this is the same shame as created by moving pictures and live plays. You are not allowing yourself to use your own snippets to fill in the blanks. Oh yes, some directors cut away just as the breathing gets hot and heavy, or, just before the boy is forced to shoot his dog, horse, deer, etc.. In those cutaways you are allowed to use your own snippets. And aren’t those the most emotional and best parts of the movie? Using your own emotions, whether reading or watching, is the joy of written or performance art. I can’t say that the same is true for the plastic arts but I wish not to speak for others. Maybe the voyeurs get all wound up looking at paintings and sculpture; I do not. However, with that said, I must admit that the technical expertise of the plastic artists is extremely good.”
You seem to have answered my questions before I even had a chance to read them. How is it that you can write so fast?
“You have to remember that I am writing this while you are simultaneously reading it. This flies in the face of conventional writing. Normally it is a serial operation where I write and then you read. In our situation the operation becomes parallel. It saves a lot of time, especially if no one else will ever read this. If it is only you and I involved then we can write and read whatever we like. Isn’t togetherness great?”
Yes, but its starting to get a little creepy. Are you sure that you are not simply hitting on me?
“No. Our relationship is strictly platonic; probably even a little narcissistic. But that’s OK. We understand each other better than most readers and writers. That may even be why we can run through this exercise together. Look; I have to go now so maybe I will see you next time I have to write.”
It has been nice reading you. Hope to run into you at the publishing house some day.
“That sounds great. I’ll be looking forward to it. Save room for lunch; my treat.”