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I’m getting many kind words about the new story at Beneath Ceaseless Skies; thanks to everyone who has read it and/or passed it on. It’s very gratifying to hear that people liked it. My favorite comment so far is “”I loved your story. The language alone made me tipsy.” Achievement: unlocked!

I am getting sick, thanks in part to my boss and co-worker. Something fluish is circulating amongst the herd. My brain is not running at full capacity, but I’ve been finding little passages and snippets of ideas here and there about writing and words that are slowly percolating in my mind. I don’t know that they articulate with each other but they are making me ponder language and the power of reading.

1) from Seb Doubinsky:

When you write poetry, you literally walk on the uneven road of language. And if you want sense, you put up signs. If you don’t want sense, you don’t put up signs. You decide. Language doesn’t. You are never spoken. You speak. The other speaks.

2) From Sir John Lubbock’s The Pleasures of Life, 1897:

I have often been astonished how little care people devote to the selection of what they read. Books, we know, are almost innumerable; our hours for reading are, alas! very few. And yet people read almost by hazard.

3) from Ursula K. Le Guin:

[R]eading is active, an act of attention, of absorbed alertness—not all that different from hunting, in fact, or from gathering. In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won’t do the work for you. To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it—everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not “interactive” with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer’s mind. No wonder not everybody is up to it.

4) from Perfetti, Liu, and Tan, “The Lexical Constituency Model: Some Implications of Research on Chinese for General Theories of Reading,” pp. 14-15.

[W]ritten words, unlike people and places, do not have names so much as pronunciations. This is a property they share with spoken words. Note that both written words and spoken words are “mispronounced,” not “misnamed.” A word has an identity, not a name, and word identification is the expression of that identity through pronunciation.