Jan. 22, 2003
Reading and Writing
v For us to read a book, especially fiction, is to read once for the story.
v Even non-fiction is mostly read once, rarely a second or a third time.
v Should a reader draw the maximum benefit of reading a book, especially children in the school, reading one book thoroughly will make him a reader who can benefit from reading a book once as if he has mastered it.
v For this purpose one should choose a book he loves.
- His first reading will tell him the contents fairly, the story, if it is fiction.
- To know the sequence of the plot is generally not possible even after several readings, but a second reading with an eye on the turns and twists of the plot can give that knowledge.
- Of the characters, there are the main ones as well as minor ones.
To know the character of the protagonist or the hero, it needs an observation of his acts with respect to each other character. Of course, one can know the character of a character only if he has a term of reference or a framework of character. One more reading is required to know each character that well.
- Often minor characters act decisively. To collect it requires another reading.
- Thus far, one will cover the plot and characterisation.
- Any work of fiction expresses in its course on life, make pronouncements of the truths of life. They may be a dozen or several dozen. One can collect them during any reading and see how these statements are true in this story. One need not go beyond to their social origins unless he is interested in Life Response or philosophy.
- A special reading must be devoted to absorb all the special phrases of the book. It is essential to rewrite the story in one's own words employing all these particular phrases that make the writing of value. Going into the author's art of phrasing and learning the process will complete it.
- Life Response cannot be fully appreciated while reading for any other purpose. It needs a reading for its own sake.
- As our aim is NOT scholarship in the writings of the author, which is the field of the specialist, we need not go beyond these approaches.
- There is one more phenomenon. In an event, there may be many people and several occurrences. Looked at from the point of view of the hero, if we see that all people respond to him or all events respond to him, our comprehension will be comprehensive. We read, in a sense, unidimensionally. In Pride and Prejudice Darcy came to Elizabeth to propose when she was alone. We take it as chance. Taking the character of the total context, all others move away leaving her alone for him to propose. We are not trained to read in this sense. We need to strain ourselves and train ourselves to read in this fashion. The book must be read and reread from each character's point of view in this sense.
v A story is an imaginative piece of fiction around a plot, enacted by several major and minor characters, at several locations, in a social context, where the interchange between characters enables them to express their characters in terms of their relationship with others and the existing circumstances. In this process an enormous amount of major and minor decisions are made and each person exercises his decision-making capacity.
v Decision-making is a process of the will acquiring knowledge to act to preserve or grow one's personality according to his own articulated motive. *
v Another fresh reading is called for from the point of view of understanding each decision 1. in the context of the personality of the character and 2. in the context of the event. If one can see the interaction of these two, it will complete the process of understanding life but at the stage of reading the very first book, it may be asking for too much.
v If the above are the main lines along which a book can be read with benefit, there are other minor benefits one can derive.
- In conversation we see different characters using different words to express the same idea. It shows the preference of the character or the level of education or level of comprehension or miscomprehension of words by each character.
- During the course of a story characters change. The pattern of such a change is educative.
- During the entire story there are characters that do not change. Their not changing is more educative as we see behind it a determination NOT to change or an inability to change.
- In Pride and Prejudice we see Darcy finds Elizabeth tolerable and does not want to dance with her.
In the next ball we find him asking her to dance with him when she refuses.
Again he repeats his request another time and she inadvertently accepts.
His gaze is fixed on her and he is bewitched by her fine eyes and liveliness of mind.
He later proposes to her and is refused.
His initial response is of the surface mind.
His later behaviour is of the real mind in him.
He is an aristocrat who is an instrument to compromise with the bourgeoisie and therefore was attracted to her.
He is a selfish man who needs to acquire Selflessness to which effort he is willing for the sake of Elizabeth.
Thus behind each character we find grades of motives.
v Should a child at the appropriate age read one book like this, he will be able to read other books with the same benefit in the first few readings.
v Writing is essential. How much, which part, in what fashion is to be decided. It is better the whole book is rewritten in the reader's words bringing out as much of his understanding as possible.
* Refer to the few papers of mine on 'Decision Making.'