What? We all rewrite what we’re reading? How in the world can I propose such an idea?
In the second post just mentioned, I gave a little formula to help explain what I mean:
“Reading is to Writing as Hearing is to Speaking.”
Then, I asked a question:
“Do we always hear exactly what the other person’s saying?”
So, when we read, do we always get the meaning the author intended when they wrote the words?
In the case where we don’t hear what the other person’s saying, there are quite a few factors that can change the meaning as it travels from their mouth to our brain; one of the strongest being our own brain. We capture words with our ears and our brain reaches in and adds its own interpretation.
Sometimes, the change from spoken word to perceived meaning is as great as what the person at the end of the circle of whispered words says–almost always completely different from what the first person said…
Whether spoken or written, words are some of the slipperiest entities humans deal with.
As far as written words go, there is the common rewriting we can do when the book is old and the language has grown in a new direction.
But, what about a book written not long ago? Why would a reader’s brain insist on reinterpreting the meaning the author intended?
[My muse insisted I insert this sentence: "I certainly don’t mean that a reader can never understand anything about what the writer has written…"]
I wrote this post mostly to get you thinking and I’ll end it with a statement you may completely disagree with:
I think the reader’s rewriting of the book the author has written is totally natural and our world would be boring as hell if it didn’t happen 🙂