Tag Archives: Reading

Why Butcher Novels with Film Adaptations?

“The subject of reading, of absorbing and interpreting, of assimilating the book’s narrative into the narrative of our lives, becomes inextricable from the text. There are schools of literary theory that focus, with varying degrees of complexity, on reader response and the “event” of reading. But the underlying concept is simple. Reading isn’t passive absorption; it’s an active rewriting based on who you are, where you are, how old you are and, possibly, whether or not it rained that morning. […]

The question remains: Why reduce these novels that grow so much bigger than their 1,000-odd pages into 2 1/2-hour movies, plays and ballets?

In her 1926 essay The Cinema, Virginia Woolf is obsessed with this problem. In reference to some of the earliest film adaptations of Anna Karenina, Woolf considers how strange it is to see someone else’s face imposed on a character that “the brain knows almost entirely by the inside of her mind.”

Woolf’s issue is how much film relies on visual distillation – “A kiss is love. … Death is a hearse” – when our experience of reading is just the opposite. Literary love is so much more than visual; the depicted relationship must travel along a twisting autobiographical pathway of ex-lovers and daydreams to make any sense to us at all. So why subject these great works of literature to such diminishing distortions?”

From: theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/dancing-into-anna-kareninas-mind/article24007703/?service=mobile

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Fiction Benefits Science

“It is hard to deny that science fiction plays a role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and innovators. What may be less obvious, however, is the wide range of other functions the genre serves. Science fiction offers scientists and technologists a chance to step back and assess some of the consequences their work could have on society. Good literature offers the reader the chance to reflect on a complex situation from multiple perspectives.

Science fiction is already being used to help steer technological development. Many companies make use of a technique known as “design fiction” to evaluate the effects of a project before they invest in it.

Science fiction also educates people. People naturally understand stories—they don’t naturally understand formulas or instruction manuals. Science and technology have become so complex that the majority of people that are supposed to benefit from these fields don’t have a chance of really understanding them. Increasing sophistication has given rise to another demand science fiction must fill—making real science accessible and interesting to people.”

From:  thelamron.com/2015/04/10/fiction-is-the-future/

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The More You Know the Larger the Rows of Unread Books

“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others — a very small minority — who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”

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From: brainpickings.org/2015/03/24/umberto-eco-antilibrary/

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Brain’s Visual Dictionary aids Reading

… “study supports the idea that when we learn a new word visually – by reading it rather than hearing it spoken aloud – a small part of the brain, located behind the left ear, creates a mental image of the word. Instead of remembering it as a string of letters or syllables, this region, called the visual word form area, gets trained to recognize the entire word as a pattern, forming a “visual dictionary” of our vocabulary. Representing written words in this way helps us recognize them more easily – and read faster.

“We know that in efficient readers this visual word form area is the area that seems to change the most as we learn to read,” said study author Max Reisenhuber, a neuroscientist at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C.”

From: insidescience.org/content/picturing-words-makes-faster-readers/2706

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Reading and Writing are Crucial in Humanitarian Emergencies

“In humanitarian emergencies, reading and writing are essential to healing and reconstruction.

While there is no question that organizations and governments must devote the majority of their efforts to promoting the physical wellbeing of disaster victims, more attention should be given to nourishing the mind as a second measure to help victims cope with catastrophe and move forward.

The importance of food, emergency supplies, and shelter, after a natural disaster, cannot be underestimated. But perhaps the importance of books, which provide comfort, escape, connection, and normalcy after a crisis, can.”

From, and read urgent petition to donate books to Vanuatu:

http://m.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2015/0320/Vanuatu-asks-the-world-please-send-books!-video

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Writers Have a Huge Responsibility

“Literature matters. […]

It’s like this. When you read, you are involved in a private transaction between, on the one hand, you, and on the other, the book and the person standing behind the book, the author.

The act of reading brings two separate energies together. One is the text which is made by the writer, and other is your personality into which the text is imported. Reading merges you and the text together and once that union has been effected it can never be undone. The two are meshed.

And the reason I lay such stress on this process is that the act of taking words off the page and bringing them into your psyche will necessarily change you for ever because every time you read, you see, the words you ingest get added in or on to your personality, so when you finish a text you are not the same person that you were when you started.

This means writers have a huge responsibility because, quite literally, albeit incrementally, the things they write, once they’re read, change the character of their readers, for ever.”

From: irishtimes.com/culture/books/carlo-g%C3%A9bler-writing-matters-so-it-should-be-venerated-not-devalued-1.2145883

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Book Publishing Industry Survives Without Big Data

But can it continue?

“It is one of the cruel truisms of the book business that publishers rarely have much insight into how their products are actually used. This is not for lack of curiosity on a publisher’s part but because of the structure of the industry:  books are almost never sold directly to end-users. They are sold to libraries and the wholesalers that service libraries; they are sold to your local bookshop; and they are sold to online vendors; but rarely is a book sold directly by a publisher to the person who reads it.  Book publishing, in other words, is a game of intermediaries. Sitting upstream, publishers have little insight into what is happening downstream. This is an invitation to make bad business decisions based on unproven assumptions about how books are actually used, and as an industry, book publishers have accepted that invitation over the past few years and made a series of big mistakes. It may be hard to roll back these decisions, but if we don’t know what they are and how they came to be, we are likely to keep making more of the same.”

From: scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2015/03/12/what-we-got-wrong-about-books/

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Writing, a Solitary Voyage Through the Universe

“The reader may laugh, but for us writers, writing is every time a mad, exciting business, a voyage in a tiny craft on the high seas, a solitary flight through the universe. While one seeks to choose the single word among three that present themselves, at the same time struggling to hold the feeling and tone of the whole sentence he is constructing — while forging the sentence into the selected structure and tightening the bolts of the edifice, he strives at the same time to keep in mind the tone and proportion of the whole book; that is an exciting activity.

I know from personal experience only a single other activity that has a similar tension and concentration; that is, painting. There it is the same: to blend each individual color with its neighboring color properly and carefully is pleasant and easy, one can learn to do it and then practice it at any time. Over and beyond that, however, to have really before one’s mind the as yet unpainted and invisible parts of the whole picture and to take them into account, to experience the whole fine network of intersecting vibrations, that is astonishingly difficult and seldom succeeds.”

Hermann Hesse, A Patient at a Spa

See also: The Sorrows of a Young Writer https://spywriter.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/the-sorrows-of-a-youngish-writer/

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Storytelling Hightens Moral Reasoning

Intriguing new evidence “shows a positive correlation between literacy and moral reasoning, most particularly between reading fiction and being able to take the perspective of others. Perspective-taking in novels requires a matrices-like rotation of relational positions combined with an understanding of what it would feel like if X happened to you, even though the “you” in this case is a character in the novel.”

“In a 2011 study, for example, the Princeton neuroscientist Uri Hasson and his team scanned the brain of a woman while she told a story out loud that the scientists recorded and subsequently played back for other subjects while their brains were being scanned. When the reader’s emotional brain region called the insula lit up during a certain portion of the story, so too did the listeners’ insulas; when the woman’s frontal cortex became active during a different part of the story, the same region in listeners’ brains was also activated. It’s almost as if the fictional story synchronized the reader’s and listeners’ brains.”

“This experiment is important because it nails down the direction of the causal arrow from reading literary fiction to perspective taking, eliminating the objection that perhaps people who are interested in and good at interpreting the mental states of others just happen to be people who read novels.”

From: reason.com/archives/2015/02/17/are-we-becoming-morally-smarte

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Writing is more than Craftsmaship

“Literature is language — the tongue is an extension of a man’s deepest feelings, his very soul. Not every person who speaks, however, is a writer or artist because language is not automatically literature. Literature is art that uses language as its basic tool and the writer is a skilled user of language. Writing, like all other art forms, is a craft that is learned in school, through constant practice. The apprentice craftsman learns how to fashion sentences, paragraphs, the stories, novels, essays, and poetry even. He learns grammar, punctuation, the precise meaning of words, and their meaning. He learns how to produce tension, how to be clear if precision is required, and how to be obtuse if obfuscation is demanded of him. He knows brevity or long-windedness. He writes to communicate, to arouse love or hate. He also knows his writing will most probably survive if he is good enough. Indeed, literature is the noblest of the arts.”

“To achieve art the writer knows he has to be more than a craftsman. He must now be creative, imaginative, original and profound, all these cannot be taught — these virtues he must search in himself. He will surely find them if he strives hard enough, if he goes deep down to his very core and finds it there … because artists are rare creatures; they are born, not made.”

From: m.philstar.com/366247/show/ed251572d567c9c2c506cd8110150bff/?

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