Monday, October 11, 2010

words about words

Do you read every day? Yes, I believe most people do--even if it just only the front of the cereal box in the morning or the beginning credits that roll along the bottom of your favorite TV show's opening. But do you read purposefully? With the intention of getting some sort of information, some sort of experience out of it? I think I do. Every day. And that's a weird thought.

My vested interest in words was brought to my attention last week when I turned in an assignment I'd done for Oren's Illustration class. We were supposed to document everything we did for a day, in order to realize that beauty and inspiration were all around us--even in the most minute of moments. While Oren found my "first Eggs Benedict" to be particularly beautiful (and what greater beauty is there than runny, golden yolks and buttery Hollandaise?), he and my fellow classmates also found the amount of my interaction with words to be worth noting.

On the particular Saturday that I documented, of course, I was entirely aware that what I was documenting would be judged by a jury of my peers, not to mention a particularly honest professor. Naturally (or un-), I tried to be productive. My log began with staying up to finish writing an e-mail, a short story, and reading (short stories by Karen Russell) until 3:30 AM; I couldn't help myself. By late afternoon, however, I had slipped back in front of my computer and my entries in the log read something like "read online... webcomicsssss... read online." When I read that list aloud, all I heard was "did nothing, did nothing, did nothing." But apparently what I consider fooling around on the computer is not necessarily fooling around on the computer.

Now, I know that I love words. I love reading, and I always have. Books are important to me in a way that is pseudo-divine. I would never deny that I have a deep and lasting relationship with words, but it's just that hearing it from someone else puts things in a new light. For some reason, until that moment, I had always thought that a love of reading meant a love of reading books.

Especially during the last few years of high school, there was a marked decrease in the number of books I read for pleasure during the school year. I was on the varsity fencing team from November until February each winter, participated in the creative writing club and my school's art and literary journal, Reflections, and my fair share of homework and college applications to worry about. I missed books, but on weekends when I had moments of downtime, I was far more likely to put my brain to dead and turn on the TV. I thought I was a sham, a pretender--to pick TV over books? Blasphemy! No one who truly loved books, who was truly worthy of them would dare to do such a thing!

But I had never stopped reading. I was reading webcomics (even then I would spend nights not writing papers to read the entire archive of XKCD or Inverloch). There were literary submissions to Reflections, good and terribly, terribly bad. And of course you could never escape the inevitable: once in a blue moon, you would be assigned reading that, at least in retrospect, you actually enjoyed (The A&P by John Updike, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins, and Of Mice and Men by Jon Steinbeck were all examples of this).

Although now I make a point to read every night (whether or not my roommates think I'm crazy), I still spend an amazing amount of my week on my computer following at least six or seven blogs, a staggering thirty webcomics, and lengthy e-mails and Facebook messages from my friends, in addition to any websites or articles I come across that strike my fancy or give me pause.

I read a lot more than I thought I did.

And now that I've written all of this, I think I finally know how I am going to execute part two of my Illustration assignment.

It starts with words.

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Blogger Ana said...

i wish you a long and happy relationship with words, because you certainly have a way with them.

10/11/10, 10:40 PM  
Blogger obvisu said...


And thank you for being my first blog comment! :)

10/12/10, 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Lizzie M. said...

I really, really love this because I definitely feel that guilt about not "reading" sometimes. Because.... reading = books! To say anything else would be blasphemy! I look down on those people who justify Us Weekly as serious reading... so obviously books = reading.
But hey, maybe I should give Us Weekly readers some slack. Whenever those people who know of my love of reading ask me what I've recently devoured... I'm usually like "uuuh.... a Pioneer Woman blog post?" and then I hide in shame. Shame, I tell you. Because if I'm such a reading smarty-pants, I should be eating novels for breakfast, right?
Embrace the online reading love train! I make time for books, I still love them, but I'm struggling with the senior year workload you've described above. Webcomics, online news sources, blogs, etc. etc... they keep me reading! I guess its kind of like an olympic runner who can only find time for jogging once in a while, but at least that runner is keeping active.
This is long comment, sorry about that, but I totally FEEL this topic, man. I feel it.

11/11/10, 9:12 PM  

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