What if uhh... C-A-T, really spelled dog?:

From an interview with novelist Zadie Smith on KCRW's Bookworm program:

"But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, 'I should sit here and I should be entertained.' And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true."

I would add that talented writers begin as talent readers, though I've scarcely heard it remarked upon.

The two activities are not only fundamentally similar, they're the necessary halves of a single human activity.

The reader completes the arc.

If there is no reader, there is no text.

I never really gave this that much thought, what is the model of a reader? I read a lot, in fact I'm rarely without a book nearby, so do I read as I were watching a movie? Do I read more like a pianist playing a piece of music? Today I kind of found out which one it is.

I was sitting outside, under the tree again, inhaling massive amounts of pollen (something I'm beginning to regret currently), and still trying to finish my book (I had hoped to finish last night, but time slipped past me). Suddenly I found myself in the zone, so to speak. I was rushing along reading as fast as I could, not because I wanted to be finished, but because I wanted to know what happens, how does this all tie together? My eyes drank in each word like they were nectar.
"Kearney fell to his knees and pushed his face into the beach, where he perceived with clarity and suddenness not just the individual grains of wet sand but the shapes between them. They looked so distinct and detailed that he did, briefly, feel like a child again. He wept for the sheer loss of this: the loss of himself."

I read these words, and as I did another part of my brain started to think of infinite smallness and how to something almost microscopic, looking up from a grain of wet sand, it could look like an entire universe, spanning to infinity. We would only see a beach spanning from point A to point B. Reality is perception.

I sit up, straighten my back, and lean into the book like I'm trying to fall into and become the book just as Seria Mau Genlicher was her spaceship, the White Cat, I read on:
"Everywhere you look it unpacks to infinity. What you look for, you find. And you people can have it. All of it."

In my mind I'm microscopic, standing on a grain of wet sand, I see it grow and expand, like a camera in a movie, pulling out further and further. The grains of sand spread out like some sort of explosion, they zoom out then suddenly stop. They are no longer grains of sand, but stars. The universe unpacks to infinity.

I have to wonder though, am I just like the micro-organism? Is the this infinite universe actually a beach? Are we just a smaller part of something greater like at the end of Men in Black?

My lunch ended and I still didn't finish my book (fifteen
pages left!). As I walked back to my office, I remembered the above quote from Zadie Smith and I thought to myself that I was the pianist using M. John Harrison's words as my music and I wondered if I got the notes right.



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