Friday, August 03, 2007

A recent Peopletech column in the Business Standard (last week, not so recent) speaks about the columnist’s utter confusion/ frustration/ irritation at having to wade through old-fashioned reading material, Proust, for a writing class. When he tries to read this later, at his own pace, he quite enjoys the work.
Now, Proust I haven’t read. Don’t think I shall, either. But couldn’t help free-thinking some of the likely reasons for this sudden change of heart:
-that the brain looks for patterns, and tries to fit new information within a preexisting grid, or linking however obtusely to existing nodes, if that takes longer than expected, impatience sets in.
-it was too late in the day to process new information even if you wanted to- fatigue
-a stage of life issue- you are not used to not learning things quickly and therefore have no patience with slowly unraveling something that’s different

What other reasons?

10 comments:

Portia said...

i always found it much easier to read with no deadlines attached, but that's just me.

when i read how he was frustrated that he didn't know the relevance of the piece to his class...something he said later reminded me of that ridiculous quote by donald rumsfield...

we know there are known knowns, there are things we know we know, we also know there are known unkonwns, ...things we know we don't know. but there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know.


you had to hear him say it for the full effect but, UGH. (your man ajit reminded me of it but does not appear so dense himself.)

AmitL said...

Hi,Austy-reason for the change of heart,to me,seems to be the fact that reading at his own pace,was not a complusion for him,hence he enjoyed it...like so many things in life,when something is compulsory,we tend to find it irritating.When we do it at our convenience,it's fun.:)

Proxima Blue said...

Similar to what Portia said. I do not like to read when I am expected to give a report or something by a deadline.

Also, age does make a difference I think. As an example, I used to like looking at airplanes and cars for their shape and size, "the big things" about it. Now that I am older, I look for small interesting details. At what point did I pick up a fascination about gauge panels, I don't know. Some how, the details start to make more sense. Before, all those gauges were just a bunch of "stuff".

Similar to what your saying, just different words.
-P

shiv said...

May not apply for all books but it also depends on the frame of mind

austere said...

portia- that's not W? No, this man is otherwise a top shot hence not dense (ok stresching a point there). My personal take is that he was expecting to read something short and snappy like "5 points to make a creative fiction piece sing" - or something- and this completely floored him.

amitl- dont think I shall find trigonometry or quadratic equations FUN even if I'm marooned on an island with just them for company.

proxima- hmm. well you pay for a class and then you take yourself there after work, so there is an intrinsic readiness- the gauge example looks like familiarity working for you, so in a sense a pattern?

shiv- frame of mind of frame of thing?

Portia said...

teehee, the two of them must share the same brain cell.

mago said...

Proust's "Recherche" can be looked at very controversial: A good friend of mine who really read a lot and has a taste for reading/writing is disgusted by Proust's text: Plain boooooring!
Others enjoy it deeply. Myself found it difficult to come into the text and I have to confess that I gave up. Proust and some others are on the list of books to be read once.

I think that he simply wanted something different and that he maybe had other ideas about learning to write: He had other expectations. When he allowed the text to have an effect on him - in his own surroundings, at his own pace - the text worked, overwhelmed him in a way - texts can be difficult to access, I have real difficulties with Guenter Grass. But none at all with Arno Schmidt, who wrote in a strange language, typographical challenging - I will give a picture of this for illustration.

I think all your reasons are right, plus the nature of the given text (boring), plus his expectations, plus surroundings: In the safety of one own's home one probably allows a text easier to take care of oneself, a timely and undangerous kidnapping ...

austere said...

Portia- that is a Nobel prize grade advance, not an attribute you’d care to give to the gentlemen in question, methinks…

Mago- I am an ignoramus. No Grass, No Schmidt and I am afraid, no Proust either. But then no Saraswatichandra either, this signature work in my mother tongue, a work in five volumes that inspired many to leave family life and become ascetics.

The first volume, Swan’s way I have downloaded, via the Univ of Adelaide link; will soon learn if I can withstand it or not. Virginia Woolf’s essays I liked, but they were short. Unending text I cannot stand.

One more reason I thought of, is framing. That black squiggle can look like a child’s interpretation of the Sun till someone tells you it is Picasso, hence $$ million hence genius.

mago said...

Sorry, I just grabbed your comment and made it a post ...

austere said...

:) I enjoyed that, thought and went offff on a tangent.