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Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
Midnight on the Great Western
In the third-class sat the journeying boy,
And the roof-lamp’s oily flame
Played down on his listless form and face,
Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going,
Or whence he came.
In the band of his hat the journeying boy
Had a ticket stuck; and a string
Around his neck bore the key of his box,
That twinkled gleams of the lamp’s sad beams
Like a living thing.
What past can be yours, O journeying boy,
Towards a world unknown,
Who calmly, as if incurious quite
On all at stake, can undertake
This plunge alone?
Knows your soul a sphere, O journeying boy,
Our rude realms far above,
Whence with spacious vision you mark and mete
This region of sin that you find you in
But are not of?
Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
Give me the long, straight road before me,
A clear, cold day with a nipping air,
Tall, bare trees to run on beside me,
A heart that is light and free from care.
Then let me go! – I care not whither
My feet may lead, for my spirit shall be
Free as the brook that flows to the river,
Free as the river that flows to the sea.
Wikipedia： Slow reading Slow reading is the intentional reduction in the speed of reading, carried out to increase comprehension or pleasure· The concept appears to have originated in the study of philosophy and literature as a technique to more fully comprehend and appreciate a complex text· More recently, there has been increased interest in slow reading as result of the slow movement and its focus on decelerating the pace of modern life·The use of slow reading in literary criticism is sometimes referred to as close reading· Of less common usage is the term, "deep reading"· Slow reading is contrasted with speed reading which involves techniques to increase the rate of reading without adversely affecting comprehension, and contrasted with skimming which employs visual page cues to increase reading speed· （Source：rawpixel）
Philosophy and literature
The earliest reference to slow reading appears to be in Nietzsche's preface to the 1887 Daybreak: "It is not for nothing that one has been a philologist, perhaps one is a philologist still, that is to say, a teacher of slow reading·"
Birkerts, in his book The Gutenberg Elegies, stated "Reading, because we control it, is adaptable to our needs and rhythms· We are free to indulge our subjective associative impulse； the term I coin for this is deep reading: the slow and meditative possession of a book·"
Birkerts' emphasis on the importance of personal control over the speed of reading is echoed by Pullman, who additionally argued that taking control of the pace of one's reading is a form of personal freedom, and develops an appreciation of democracy·
A similar view was stated by Postman, who noted the character of the ordinary citizen of the 19th century, a mind that could listen for hours on end to political orations clearly shaped by a culture favouring text· Postman warns that reading books is important for developing rational thinking and political astuteness·
Lindsay Waters, Executive Editor for the Humanities at Harvard University Press, declared a worldwide reading crisis resulting from our global push toward productivity·
He asserts that young children are learning to read faster, skipping phonetics and diagramming sentences, and concludes that these children will not grow up to read Milton·
He foresees the end of graduate English literature programs· "There is something similar between a reading method that focuses primarily on the bottom-line meaning of a story in a novel and the economic emphasis on the bottom line that makes automobile manufacturers speed up assembly lines·"
He advised re-introducing time into reading: "The mighty imperative is to speed everything up, but there might be some advantage in slowing things down· People are trying slow eating· Why not slow reading?"
Carl Honoré, an advocate of the slow movement, discusses slow reading in his book In Praise of Slow· He recommends slow reading as one of several practices to decelerate from the fast pace of modern life· Laura Casey points out that the increasing availability of instant communication technologies, such as texting and social media like Facebook and Twitter, may be contributing to the decline of slow reading·
In 2008, novelist I· Alexander Olchowski founded the Slow Book Movement to advocate for reading practices related to the slow movement, including reading light material at a relaxed pace for pleasure, reading complex materials slowly for insight, reading materials of local interest and by local authors, and community building around local libraries and reading events·
While there is substantial research about involuntary slow reading, which can arise from a lack of fluency and is a predictor of dyslexia, there are a few studies which demonstrate the positive value of voluntary slow reading· Nell (1988) showed that there is substantial rate variability during natural reading, with most-liked pages being read significantly slower· Sherry Jr· and Schouten (2002) suggested that close reading could have commercial application as a research method for the use of poetry in marketing· Advocates of speed-reading point out that subvocalization slows the speed of reading, but studies by Carver found no other observable negative effect on the reading process, and observed that the slower pace seemed to improve comprehension·
Miedema, John (2009)· Slow Reading· Los Angeles, CA: Litwin Books·
Sire, James (1978)· How to Read Slowly· Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press·（https://en·wikipedia·org/wiki/Slow_reading）
Mark Bauerlein: Nietzsche on Slow Reading
In response to the article on slow reading, Karl Maurer sent the following citation from Nietzsche, written in 1886 near Genoa:
“Besides, we are friends of the lento, I and my book. I have not been a philologist in vain — perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste — a perverted taste, maybe — to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is ‘in a hurry.’ For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all — to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow — the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. Thus philology is now more desirable than ever before; thus it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of ‘work’: that is, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is so eager to ‘get things done’ at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not so hurriedly ‘get things done.’ It teaches how to read well, that is, slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes. My patient friends, this book appeals only to perfect readers and philologists: learn to read me well!”
Funny that the philosopher-poet of uncertainty, of “the raging discordance of truth and art,” of becoming and not being, of will to power, of the impulse not to stabilize and fixate and freeze the rushing torrent of time and life should be a “friend of the lento.” What Nietzsche discerns out of the hustling pace of labor and productivity and efficiency is the phony claim of fastness to advancement and improvement.
More isn’t better, though, and neither is quicker — not necessarily, and not in matters of the mind. But speed itself has so much momentum, Nietzsche suggests, that slow reading becomes an adversarial force. In his heated rendition, reading “slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently” is a contrarian act, not a plodding, old-fashioned bookwormish retreat. （see next column）
We are in a similar situation now in higher education. Young people today process more words than ever before and in faster time — allegro, not lento. To meet them, more classrooms and more course assignments follow suit, for instance, assigning blogs instead of papers, short readings instead of long ones. The unfortunate truth is that fast reading and fast writing don’t make people more flexible, more capable of slow reading and writing when the situation demands them. We need a mix, which means that more humanities professors need to recognize slow reading and writing as a meaningful activity, one that must be preserved against the tidal wave of texting, posting, chatting, networking, and other fifth-gear practices of our time.
But, after all, why must we proclaim so loudly and with such intensity what we are, what we want, and what we do not want? Let us look at this more calmly and wisely; from a higher and more distant point of view. Let us proclaim it, as if among ourselves, in so low a tone that all the world fails to hear it and us! Above all, however, let us say it slowly . . . This preface comes late, but not too late: what, after all, do five or six years matter? Such a book, and such a problem, are in no hurry; besides, we are friends of the lento, I and my book. It is not for nothing that one has been a philologist, perhaps one is a philologist still, that is to say, a teacher of slow reading: in the end one also writes slowly. Nowadays it is not only my habit, it is also to my taste—a malicious taste, perhaps?—no longer to write anything which does not reduce to despair every sort of man who is “in a hurry.” For philology is that venerable art which demands of its votaries one thing above all: to go aside, to take time, to become still, to become slow—it is a goldsmith’s art and connoisseurship of the word which has nothing but delicate, cautious work to do and achieves nothing if it does not achieve it lento. But for precisely this reason it is more necessary than ever today, by precisely this means does it entice and enchant us the most, in the midst of an age of “work,” that is to say, of hurry, of indecent and perspiring haste, which wants to “get everything done” at once, including every old or new book: this art does not so easily get anything done, it teaches to read well, that is to say, to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers . . . My patient friends, this book desires for itself only perfect readers and philologists: learn to read me well!
Ruta near Genoa, in the autumn of 1886.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality. Preface (to the Second Edition, 1887)
(SEPTEMBER 22, 2008 Brainstorm)
Nietzsche: How to read well
“Let us proclaim it, as if among ourselves, in so low a tone that all the world fails to hear it and us! Above all, however, let us say it slowly…. This preface comes late, but not too late: what, after all, do five or six years matter? Such a book, and such a problem, are in no hurry; besides, we are friends of the lento, I and my book. I have not been a philologist in vain—perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste—a perverted taste, maybe—to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is “in a hurry.” For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all—to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow—the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. For this very reason philology is now more desirable than ever before; for this very reason it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of “work”: that is to say, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is intent upon “getting things done” at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not “get things done” so hurriedly: it teaches how to read well: i.e. slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes.” —Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn of Day. (trans. John McFarland Kennedy / Source: https://timesflowstemmed.com/) （Members of a Wellington, New Zealand, club gather weekly to read slowly / https://www.wsj.com/）
慢讀，是指用足夠的時間，沈潛在一本書中，不急於“趕路”，而是“慢慢的欣賞”。美國教授托馬斯·紐柯克正在提倡“慢閱讀”，他認為這是從文字中發現更多意義和樂趣的一種方式。（Newkirk, Thomas (2011)· The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honoured Practices for Engagement· Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Books·）米德馬 (Miedema, John )稱，“慢閱讀”運動正在發展壯大。
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