Monday, April 27, 2009


I believe in linear reading, the so-called immersive experience that the even the techno-savants go on about, teary-eyed. I believe that a book can capture and hold willing readers, readers who might then experience something outside themselves, whose habits of being might be loosed. I believe that this cannot happen without humility, patience and an open mind.

I believe non-linear, linked-text reading is a symptom of Attention Deficit Disorder. I believe the words of T. S. Eliot, "Distracted from distraction by distraction" describe this kind of reading. I believe it locks the reader into a hall of mirrors in which the text thus assembled belongs to that reader only. I believe linked-text readers cease talking to one another in a common language. Instead they text each other.

I believe that reading is a physical activity, that the phrase "to chew on words" is not strictly metaphorical. I have seen people chew on words and tasted them myself. I have heard sighs and laughter and watched people talk to themselves in the act of reading a book. I have seen lips move and eyes narrow, breathing accelerate and tears form, I have seen and felt the effect that a book can have on a body. I believe reading is as physical as dreaming.

I believe that those who read books inhabit a larger world than those who do not. I believe those who can remember a passage from something they've read possess something good.

I believe that text set in Helvetica is not the same as text set in Bodoni -- even if the words are the same, the reading experience is not. I believe that good page design aids understanding and invites the reader into the flow of words. I believe that bad design clouds meaning and repulses the reader. I believe that a written work demands to be designed and I believe every written work finds its appropriate format in the end.

I believe it is a distraction for the reader to be able to alter the appearance of text in a book. I believe real reading is hard enough without having to choose your own type.

I believe that writing and reading, speaking and listening, are essential human activities and will survive all formats. I believe the same cannot be said for the businesses that have profited from these activities. I believe that the following verse in the Magnificat is a prophecy: "he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts."

I believe that you shouldn't believe everything you read.

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