The art of slow reading

Reading on the tube into work this morning (Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels), I was struck by the usual problem – kept drifting off, too many thoughts in my head, every paragraph I read went straight over it (my head, that is). I had to go back, re-read, re-read, until the contents finally sank in. I kept trying to fight off the future and the past… got… to… concentrate on the present – the words in front of me on the page – but all to no avail (shit, what was in that last sentence again? And what was this paragraph about?). The hangover didn’t help either.

And then I started down. Read each word at a snail’s pace. Gave it time to take on meaning before going on to the next. It worked a treat. Images started building up in my mind. The whole book took on a richer meaning. It struck me that I always seem to be rushing through books, anxious to get to the end, say “finished that”, and start reading another one, rather than savouring it. In fact, it’s not just books that I do that with. Time to sl..o..o..o..w life down a bit too, I think.

I then realised that space is so important in everything. I used to hear people say that space is important in music, but didn’t believe it at the time, as I was busy trying to learn to squeeze 500 notes of bass-madness into every spare second. Now of course I know what they mean. Likewise in painting and other art – it’s often what you leave out that makes for beauty (just ask a Japanese painter). A good designers is a respecter of white-space. And the universe itself, of course, is made up of atoms containing teeny tiny particles rattling around in a big big gap. So, space is the answer, less is more, how very zen.

Time to get off the tube. Mind the gap.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *