For quite a while, Francie had been spelling out letters, sounding them and then putting the sounds together to mean a word. But, one day, she looked at a page and the word "mouse" had instantaneous meaning. She looked at the word, and a picture of a gray mouse scampered through her mind. She looked further and when she saw "horse," she heard him pawing the ground and saw the sun glint on his glossy coat. The word "running" hit her suddenly and she breathed hard as though running herself. The barrier between he individual sound of each letter and the whole meaning of the word was removed and the printed word meant a thing at one quick glance. She read a few pages rapidly and almost became ill with excitement. She wanted to shout it out. She could read! She could read!
i'm guessing you can read, now, since this blog isn't braille. do you remember not being able to read? i do not. i know there must have been a time when i could not read and could only follow along dumbly whilst being read to, but... i do not recall how that felt.
that said, i am amazed by language. i mean, think about it. here we have a group of 26 symbols that are put together in varying combinations to stand for nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs, and then these words are combined into strings which follow a set of grammar rules we've all consciously or subconsciously agreed to resulting in descriptions of people and places and things and feelings and actions, all with their varying degrees and conditions. and, not only are we building these -- we are sharing them. and not only are we building and sharing them -- we are gleaning meaning from them.
i mean, sure, fire was a great invention, but c'mon. communication is the bomb.
see jane run.
reading that, did you get a picture in your mind? if not, try again.
see jane run.
did you get a picture that time? wild, isn't it. some lines and dots on the screen caused a picture to form in your mind!
imaginotransference. that's jasper fforde's word for what happens when you read. from his book "well of lost plots":
Books may look like nothing more than words on a page from the Outland, but they are actually an infinitely complex Imaginotransference technology that interfaces the writer's imagination with the characters and plots so that it will make sense in the reader's mind - odd inky squiggles into pictures and emotions.
he's nailed it, hasn't he.
see jane run. jane's six years old, and she favors pink tee shirts paired with purple shorts. she dressed in just such a pairing today, and since it's over 80°, she's barefoot. the dandelions are thick in her backyard, but that doesn't slow her down. her stringy brown shoulder-length hair is pasted to her temples by the same sweat that's turning the red north georgia clay-dust to grime in the creases of her neck. she dashes to the treeline, strikes a pine trunk, and dashes back to the cracked aggregate porch over and over and over again. when she is running, she feels happy, and she imagines that if she could, she would run all the time.
as poorly as i may have depicted it, did you see jane run?
for your sake, i hope that you did.