It’s been a year since Trump was elected and the President remains highly active in the social media. In a mere year he posted over 2,500 tweets that were more in keeping with his threatening, segregating or arrogant behavior than with political openness. Is this what we are looking to read? Hardly. But Trump is not the only public figure to be using the social media in this fashion: fake (vengeful, hateful or downright simplistic) truths are flooding the media. Why are societies so willing to accept these truths without making good use of the tool called reading?
Piglia (2015), an Argentinian writer and novelist, reaches a fundamental conclusion: “Reading requires learning to be still.” This may seem obvious, but at the same time, it is a wake up call to all of us. Engaging in the act of reading involves being both present and in movement.
In Seminar XX, Lacan (2009) states “The condition of reading is inevitably to impose limits on oneself”. Clearly reading, according to Lacan, involves a certain stillness. But what kind of stillness did he have in mind?
This stillness differs vastly from the stillness through which we remain mesmerized by certain images. How much time do we spend staring at screens? How much of what is said in those screens are we really willing to read? Setting limits is necessary as well as dropping other actions which have a numbing effect on us.
In our times, when eyes are constantly scanning content, invited to the memorization of detached readings, we as readers should steer our decisions in the direction of listening, even to the stones. That would be quite a movement.
Rushing into texts certainly does not add up in the current state of affairs. Maybe taking time to think, rethink, and dethink will prevent those in power from succeeding in their attempts at numbing us. Perhaps embracing reading as a useful and powerful tool will serve the purpose of limiting ourselves and those who intend to control us.
Lacan, J. (2009). El Seminario. Libro 20. Aun. Paidós. Buenos Aires.
Piglia, R. (2015). Los diarios de Emilio Renzi. Años de formación. Anagrama. Buenos Aires.