Monday, 30 March 2015

To be anxious about writing

Writing appears at the intersection between desire and anxiety. On the one hand there’s the desire to write; a desire to produce signs and, with signs, meanings. On the other hand, though, a strong trepidation accompanies the act of writing. While writing, the writer is aware that he/she is situated within an environment that preceded their coming into existence as writers, or their coming into existence full stop. 

Source: Fine Art America
Writing is possible, I would say, only in the stressful conditions of a precedent that owns the field and dictates the rules of engagement.


The production of signs does not happen in a vacuum. I can never honestly declare that what I have said or written is devoid of any collateral implications. What’s more, the thing that lies there, on a piece of paper or hanging in the air over the heads of my audience, cannot be said to be the result of an independent mind, or of a talent that stands on its own. Producing signs is, perhaps, a wrong phrase to use in relation to a creative undertaking. Re-producing is a much better way of putting the problem. When I write, I recycle modes of writing, techniques, genres, rhetorical imperatives, theoretical affordances, ways of putting the problem, ways of asking questions, ways of presenting an interiority that is otherwise invisible to the outside. All these things were already there, way before my decision to write. They were there, produced by others, many of whom will forever be anonymous to me, but who have contributed, through their concerted efforts, to the creation of an ecosystem of precedences which surfaces every now and then in the form of cliches, commonplaces, platitudes, apophtegms and aphorisms. Here, among the illustrious precedents (always illustrious, because always made to shine by those who take precedence as a matter of adoration), the writer is made to realize this unequivocal truth of re-production: their writing has already had a life in a past that informs the present. And so, no act of writing can escape the persecution of the precursor. The one who came before is a subject better situated in relation to the production of signs, and that is simply due to the chronological advantage of having been there before. 
Because of this persecution of precedence (or “anxiety of influence,” as Harold Bloom would have it), writing is often experienced as a form of self-mutilation. In order to produce the simplest text, one does violence to one’s self. One forces the self to take up roles that do not belong to the self but to external factors: cultural paradigms, ideological injunctions, rules of social circulation, in short: the semantics of everything. And in order for all this to happen, the self has to go through painful metamorphoses. From the mirror stage onward, the self is constantly subjected to cosmetic surgeries. These operations readjust the morphology of the self so as to make it match the external conditions. The truth of the matter is that, in order to be a self, one needs to be a multitude: the expression of everything already expressed, and which is being reproduces through the act of writing.  

The corralling of language 

But writing cannot go naked in the world. That would be a perversion. Free writing is perverse in the most etymological sense of the word; in the sense that it is inverted, that it goes against the grain. Free writing, the way the Surrealists, for instance, imagined it, upsets terribly the disciplines of writing. It does so because the text generated by these means is almost impossible to read. Now of course, what I mean here is that the structure of writing (which is an ordering of language) requires us to do things. This structure demands compliance with its pre-existent pattern. Writing is a series of patterns created so as to assure that all future forms of writing are recognizable. One might be able to detect an ideology of writing behind this statement. Ideologies are, at a fundamental level, systems of forced reconciliation between the strictures of a system and the natural propensity of the elements in that system to go about haphazardly, so to speak; to roam freely the green pastures of the pre-systematization. All elements in a system are, prior to their affiliation to that structure, well... unaffiliated. Their lack of affiliation would be, if we were to think in terms of freedom, the tendency of those elements to act outside the system. 
Unsystematized objects are objects without a class. But this classification made possible by expression (writing et al), this bringing of objects to a common denominator, can only take place through an act of violence. 

Source: Modern Notion
Systematization means taming. The animals roaming the green pastures are corralled into an enclosure where their access to their former freedom is no longer possible. That is what happens at the moment of writing as well. If we do understand writing as the taming of language. 
Writing is language written down, language forced into the strictures of inscriptions (representability, categorization, grammar, punctuation, etc. etc.) Language, in its non-written version, doesn’t consider grammatical appropriateness as significant. It doesn’t consider it at all. 
Imagine an animal which has never experienced the reality of an enclosure! 
To keep within the field of zoological illustrations, let’s say that taming by means of structure is not unlike the quasi-scientific anecdote of the golden fish that is released from its bowl. When allowed to swim freely in a pond (so the anecdote goes), the fish will keep swimming in tight circles, unaware of the vastness that’s surrounding it. This example stands to illustrate that habituation to the confinements of systems is quasi-permanent. Of course, it doesn’t mean that liberation is impossible. There will always be escapees, runaways, deserters. But awareness of the very possibility of freedom is limited by the habit of living inside a confinement. That’s why those jailbreakers and runaways are so few. 
Once corralled, I would say, one belongs in the corral. 


Now we need to agree that the corral is not perceived as a problem by just about anybody. On the contrary, most of the people who write (who use inscription in its pragmatic forms) will have no clue that writing can imprison. Form-filling, box-ticking, assignment-writing, do cause anxiety, but this anxiety is of a different type, of a different level of magnitude. One that leaves no scars. 
It these cases, it is not the inscription that causes the psychotic event but the consequences that derive from that inscription. In other words, the anxiety comes after writing, not before it. Have I done the right thing? Have I ticked the right boxes? These are customary questions experienced by writers of this kind. 

Source: National Geographic
But the other type of anxiety I have in mind, the one I’ve been talking about here, is the anxiety that comes with creative writing. When writing happens under the auspices of a creative imperative, the writer becomes aware of the environment of their own inscription, and they become aware of it before the inscription has materialized. A creative writer writes knowing that they are operating in a field where things have been done before, things that are now limiting the range of possibilities. Once Anna Karenina was written, it cannot be written again. Not in the same way, not by using the same succession of words. By contrast, the filling of forms and the writing of assignments depend precisely on repeatability. Writing the same words does not constitute a problem. Producing the same signs is the rule. It does not hurt at all to walk in the footsteps of a predecessor.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The flow of writing

Here's a concept to employ in a discussion about writing: fluidity. To be fluid: to flow, to go on, to proceed, to leak, to seep, to be restless.

Fluidity, the condition which, according to Zygmunt Bauman, characterizes postmodernity, is a state where fixed bounds, firm concepts, immortal ideas don't hold sway. Liquid modernity, Bauman's trademark concept, which he found to be better suited to define what we usually know under the name of 'postmodernity,' can be said to be defined by lack of discipline. If discipline is distribution of order in a coherent system, so as to assure of the system's permanence, then fluidity (of which liquids are a remarkable species) is, indeed, anything but disciplined. In a fluid state, things never stop taking shape; they never stop becoming. Note: liquids don't make shapes; they take the shapes of their holders. In other words, they are shapeless, in the sense of not having a shape of their own. This is, perhaps, the simplest thing one can say about water, for instance, which offers a readily available metaphor for all the liquid conditions of matter.

The liquid state of writing

Now what exactly could one say about writing that might be derived from this understanding of fluidity as shapelessness? Can we say that writing has no shape, that it cannot be captured in a form? One would be very tempted to answer yes. To do so, one could use with relative ease references to the history of the art of writing. In fact, regarded historically, writing is marked by a continuous readjustment of its borders. The history of writing is the history of writing well, and this should suffice to illustrate the extent to which this art and craft of inscriptions is prone to upset fixity. Every step in the evolution of writing, one might say, is a statement of a dialectical restlessness. Which would be a valid statement, if it weren't made irrelevant by the wrong angle from which history is employed as a concept in this case. When one points out the obvious instability associated with writing, one reaches out to a form of idealism, where the material aspects of writing are ignored. What is being pointed out instead is the evolution of writing products, i.e. of texts. And that’s how we get into arguments of genres, fashions, and other things subjected to deterioration and frequent renewal.

Source: Shinichi Maruyama
But texts are not the real materiality of writing. There is something even more essential about writing, and which precedes the appearance of concrete, visible (let's call them publishable) texts. And that is a stage of pre-signification, when a text may be said to exist in the same way a baby can be said to exist in the mother's womb in the form of a fetus (a virtual baby, a baby-to-come, a baby in the making).
This is where the concept of fluidity is really applicable to writing: at the moment before the generation of texts, when all one has is a potential. A likelihood, a to-come-ness of the text that is advancing towards its own materialization. This likelihood, which in the case of the baby is the fetus stage, is given, in relation to writing, the shape of inscriptionality. This is at the same time the potential of a surface to receive inscriptions, as well as the potential of inscriptions (not yet materialized) to do violence to a surface: to emerge by scratching that surface, by embossing a mark into it, by altering its initial purity, its writinglessness.


Writing as inscription takes the shape of the surface on which it is designed to appear. It is, in other words, limited by the edges of the container (the tablet, the scroll, the page, the screen). But – and this is crucially important – liquids are not definitively bound to a container. Their fluid state defies the very idea of stability, since liquids are perfectly adaptable to other containers as well; in fact, to any kind of container. As Bauman points out, the fluid state is a state of shifting based on the malleability of the medium. And so, in order to see writing as a liquid entity, one needs to look at its material ability to change shapes. The move from tablets to scrolls and from them onwards to codices and manuscripts and prints is but one proof of writing's liquidity. But changing material support is like changing genres. Nothing special about it, apart from the possibility of generating new ways of writing, by means of new affordances and new facilities.

Source: Cassandra Warner and Jeremy Floto

But there's something else in the picture, something that may be considered to be, at the same time, the promise and the threat of writing. And that is, again, inscriptionality. Because writing, when materialized, reveals its very potentiality (the fact that it has always already been possible for it to materialize), it follows that at the moment of inscription one is faced with two alternatives: to write, or not to write. At its most fundamental, writing is, indeed, a problem of decision. But a decision which will carry on all the consequences of the choice made by the inscriber.

Pregnant writing

That which has been written can be removed at will, and that which has been left unwritten can become inscription at a future point in time. It's in this play of alternatives that writing finds its material significance. Since it is subjected to the laws of evidence, writing is appreciated only if it has materialized; if it can be seen. But that does not mean that one cannot speak of a state before the inscription, when writing is still present, and even more pregnantly so.
Pregnant writing is writing always about to take shape. It is, at this pre-material level, a liquid entity, something that promises and at the same time threatens to take shape, i.e. to materialize to the detriment of other potential materializations.
Of course, this is not an exclusive quality of writing. The same can be easily found in all artistic forms, where in order for something to be, it must have existed before in a liquid state of potentiality. Being is being-possible.

Source: Kate MccGwire

All solid forms are first liquids. Metal is melted in order to be put into shapes, a tree is a moist and fragile sapling before turning into the hard surface used in the making of furniture, etc. It is precisely in this liquid state that precedes solidity that writing also finds its place. But to see this, one must not think of alphanumeric texts pressed into the surfaces of pages. One must think, perhaps, of incoherent scribbling, shapeless traces left on the same pages (or any other surfaces) by tools that follow not the rules of the alphabet but the rules of inscriptionality, or potentiality to inscribe, which is vaster and heavier with possibilities. One must think even further back, to a state before any inscription.

An aside about the white page

When the problem is put this way, writing appears as a form of emancipation from the tyranny of the tabula rasa. Tyranny because in its presence nothing grows; nothing is allowed to grow. In order for the white page to remain white, and therefore to remain a page, nothing must come to light. But as soon as a sign crops up, the surface is no longer a page; it becomes a manuscript.
A script produced by a hand. A handwork that makes apparent a system of notation. That's what writing is. And it is what it is (emancipation, liberation, a declaration of independence) precisely because of the liquid state in which writing exists prior to its taking shape. Without it, without the promise and the threat of its coming to light, nothing would ever exist: neither now, nor in any future. The fact that this potentiality is not visible beforehand does not matter in the least. Hindsight is a perfectly valid tool of knowledge; one can see, in consequences, the importance of a precedent; so one can develop ways of seeing causality by tracing back the progression from potential to fruition, from seed to tree, from fetus to baby, from maybe to yes, from idea to text. As Borges would have put it, every writer creates his own precursors. Just as every splash of water creates the history of the molecules in its constitution.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Writing and reading: two cases of crass infidelity

If we agree that the reader, in his distant majesty, is an unwelcomed guest (since invitation can only be extended to someone you knew beforehand), what can we say about the writer? In this landscape where the-one-who-comes-after reigns supreme, what is left to be said about the one-who-comes-before?

The reader, we say, is the great infidel of the text. His/her beliefs, his/her predetermined acceptance or refusal of texts, are issues all writers have to deal with, whether they do so consciously or not.

Two ends of a spectrum

So the central point is this commitment to the text. The text, this in-between, this only thing that matters, this only point of junction between a reader who misbehaves and a writer who should not expect anything better! This is the crux of the matter. And every approach to the text, whether from the readers' quarters or the writers' camp, will have to be situated in such a way as to ratify one of the two forms of fidelity.
Now, as I've intimated, the reader is not exactly a follower of the text. Or rather, the text formed in the reader's mind is not necessarily in conformity to the primary text.
The author, of course, stands at the other end of the spectrum of infidelities. While the reader is given to an excess of self-affirmation, he/she is one whose excess is in preparation.
The writer's table is full, and the meals are hearty and exceptionally sweet. That's because, not unlike a handler of fly-traps, the author partakes in the game so as to set a trap for readers; to bring them to the text and keep them glued there for as long as possible.

Source: Amy Wilson
In order for this feast to be acceptable the writer is required to set the table well before the encounter. The best dishes are, of course, those prepared so as to please the palate of virtual party-comers. The writer, as a chef, knowing full well that this is the case, will have to adapt their recipes so as to come as close as it gets to the dietary requirements of their paying customers, the readers.
There are secret ingredients, of course: things thrown into the pot to make the dish sweeter. Some of them are visible (and therefore easy to imitate), while others depend on downright guesswork. But the truth is one: they will have to feature on the plate. The writer will have to handle them properly, or else they’re lost in the footnotes of one’s reading list.

Generous or not: the writer’s choice

Quantities may differ, yes. At the end of the day writing is not the obstinate application of an identical recipe, since (among other things) we are not all eaters of French fries. Just by way of an example…
But if we take popularity as a measuring rod, it wouldn't be hard, would it, to recognize that the most appreciated texts are those most peppered with ingredients dear to the readers' palates. The more generous an author is in this department, the more they will reap the harvest of success. And let's not talk here about big names and pretend they have acquired their reputation by the shear value of their work. We know it's not like that. We know that popularity has to have taken place at some point along the way. Otherwise no Shakespeare would have ever shown up.
Proof? Yes. Who, outside of academic circles, has the vaguest memory of Thomas Kyd or Thomas Nashe? Would you know how to spell their names if you only heard them mentioned somewhere? Who finds it relevant to mention the names of those who collaborated with Big Will for the writing of some of his plays?

Source: WFPL News
But this may be beside the point. I was talking about writers who give generously to their readers. Parsimonious authors, on the contrary, are poorly read by others. Those who spend little time getting ready for the encounter with the reader won't fare too well; geniuses or not. As pointed out by Roland Barthes, who saw in the reader an anti-hero of misbehavior, in texts capable of generating pleasure the author is required to pay tribute to the reader's capacity to pay back in reading currency:
“The text you write must prove to me that it desires me.”
Now, don't think of the author as a slave who labors all day long to satisfy the appetite of a gourmand whose only business is to throw interminable tantrums. The author also has a life of their own, where the reader has no access. But the evidence is heavily one-sided. As Alberto Manguel says, just to set the record straight:
“Readers are bullies in schoolyards and in locker-rooms as much as in government offices and prisons.”
So there.

A tale of two egotists

The author is always on the ready for the coming of the reader, which is a premediated coming, an effort to lure. So saying that he's taken by surprise by the arrival of the boor who peruses their text is utter nonsense. The author does everything in his/her power to assure that the text is read, that there are readers to partake in the pleasure of this perusal. In other words, writers do all they can to make sure they are appreciated. Sounds narcissistic? It is. Because yes, when all chips are down the author will be minding their own game. Stuff the reader! They can do their own dance all they want; I'll have my own. This is what the thinking mind of the writer thinks. Although, perhaps, not too many will admit to it.
Thinking this way is not only honorable, it is also a very practical way of putting the problem. Because way down, in the remotest recesses of their consciousness, writers know that this is their only real chance, their only true shot. If they want to achieve immortality they need to impregnate their readers with it. So readers is what they need: delivering bodies, pregnant souls, wombs that hold the offspring of their otherwise-invisible talents.
Every writer must learn this truth of their dependence on reading, and they do so very early in their career. Hence the notion of implied audience. At the same time, readers grow accustomed to their special status as soon as they figure out their ways of reading a rebours. Hence the notion of reading as a creative gesture.

Source: Huffington Post
So you can see how terribly selfish both readers and writers are. They perform their acts while their minds fall back upon their own interest. Forever and ever. As a consequence, the success of any writing venture depends on how the two egotists merge to agree first and foremost on the relation that emerges between them at a given time. The merging point is where the parties meet and greet or meet and growl. Whatever the effect of the encounter, what becomes of real importance is the negotiation of this very slippery relationship that emerged at an uncalled-for moment, in the form of an uncalled-for address.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Let’s not love reading more than it deserves

As the reader approaches a text from a perspective that's independent from that of the author, it wouldn't take much to label him/her as an individual who is simply running their own interests to the detriment of the author. Although this statement is too harsh and certainly reductive, it is not overly-exaggerated either. By virtue of their own nature, the reader plays this comedy of errors where misreading is a crucial trick, the core of the very feat of text production.

Source: BBC
But the reader is not only a schemer. He doesn't only exist to ruin the author's dinner party with their ill manners and irreverent antics. The reader is also a skimmer.

Reading on the surface

Readers don't read whole texts; they don't peruse entire literatures, don't ingest shelves upon shelves of books. Look at what’s achieved after a lifetime of reading, multiply it by ten, and you’re still only beginning to see the extent of one’s volume insofar as this illustrious business of reading is concerned.
If anything, a reader's effort is not quantifiable in numbers of pages read a day, a week, a month, a lifetime. The worth of this effort is measured in the extent (some would say "depth," but I find the word somewhat eroded) of one's understanding. Because there's no point in reading if the text remains unread. What’s more, not-understanding is also part of the equation; and when comprehension yields negative results, quantity turns sour.
So let’s not think in terms of numbers.
Let’s not turn this activity into an event of mythical proportions that no reader should be associated with. As an activity of the intellect, reading depends on the brain and on the mind's capacity to retain information. That, in itself, is enough to put us on a track of relativization insofar as the cultural myth of the encyclopedic mind is concerned. While it may be reassuring to think that humankind has this ability injected into the members of its species to keep intact all the information ever encountered, the possibility of that to take place is null. Of course, there are individuals whose minds are great containers, who, like heroes of Olympus, can boast thousands of pages given to memory, millions of words recited without the faintest hiccup. But that doesn't prove a iota about the species. The great majority of us are still within the natural limits of the average mind, struggling with phone numbers, let alone difficult passages from Shakespeare or the German Idealists.
In fact, the very idea of an encyclopedia is proof of the fact that storage doesn't take place inside a reader's mind but outside it. It’s in the book that everything can be found; it’s for the sake of the book’s capacity to preserve texts that the writing of it was done in the first place. Insofar as there is a dictionary, one will never have to fall prey to any passion for definitions. Insofar as there is a cookbook, nobody should learn by rote the list of ingredients and cooking methods. Learning by rote is only a personal feat, and it should stay that way, whereas cooking a fine meal depends on how you can transform the recipe (always theoretical text, always a reference point) into a palpable dish.

Reading for the network

The evidence that someone's an effective and efficient reader is not in how much they can reproduce (venturing to premise that one can only reproduce something one has read). What is truly important here is the ability to create connections between the bits read at various points in time. A truly great readerly mind is a systemic mind; a mind given to the creation and maintenance of networks of texts.
When one reads, one enjoys the rediscovery of precedents. But those precedents are not present as monoliths. On the contrary, it is bits and pieces that one retains from something one has carefully perused. This means that reading is the successive addition of texts to texts. Reading depends on reading. To be able to read, one must have already read. Not the same text, but some (never all) texts that make up the present text's environment: its textuality. Hence the familiar conclusion that every text is intertext; that no text is ever isolated, simply because its reader is not isolated either.
So the pleasure of the reader is, indeed, acquired from being able to connect. Being able to say "I've seen this before" gives more satisfaction than the discovery of something entirely new. Not to mention the fact that complete newness is not enjoyable; it works against our instincts of conservation and against the basic need for comfort we acquire from treading pathways trodden by others – or even by ourselves, in earlier instantiations of our lives as readers.
This is when our capacity to memorize is most gratified: when, out of the nebulous hodge-podge of accumulated experience, where nothing stands out unless it is intentionally brought into the foreground, we pick out this particular episode, this particular fraction of a text, which we had thought forever lost, never preserved.
The anxiety of reading is to be found when, at the end of a novel, for instance, sometimes even the names of the protagonists are not immediately retrievable. This is also the moment when the reader experiences doubt of their own intellectual capacity. But this is a wrongly perceived problem, an anxiety with no justification, because nobody reads a text with the express intention of turning it into the cells of their own blood.
Source: Burak Arikam
Not even the most fundamentalist readers of a text can imagine a world where no other text is possible. The whole of life would stand to prove them wrong. The fact that fundamentalists insist on the importance of a single text ("Sola Scriptura," a dictum so utopian it must hurt) proves, to my mind, a deeply seated anxiety in relation to the alternative texts that compete for one's attention along with the text considered fundamental. Indeed, the struggle to read one text alone is a struggle to eliminate all other texts from the epicenter of one's experience; and that is a very unnatural striving, one with little chances of success.
It is more natural and perhaps more realistic to think of writing as a process of interactivity. The way present texts interact with earlier texts when I keep my mind and eye on a particular page is the only valid proof there is that I am a reader, one who never allows the present text to obliterate the texts that are not immediately present but which have effectively seeped into my intellectual capacity to read – to recognize a text when I see one.

Monday, 2 March 2015

The reader, my guest

Addressed in the second person, the reader is always a guest. But a guest who is given the freedom to mess up with the dishes and to turn tables upside-down.

A reader who behaves well is not a happy situation. A reader who respects the author too much and has perfect table manners every time he sits at the author's feast is an epigone, an imitator. He does everything for the author but nothing for the text. And in this equation that we're interested in it's the text that matters, because it's in the text that the author's survival can be hoped for. But it is also in the text that the author is at his most fragile. It's in the text that the author is most exposed. That is why readers find it so easy to impose themselves upon a text. Every reading is a different reading, as the saying goes.
So again, one needs to be rude to be a good reader. In fact, let's face it: the reader is a parasite. He or she feeds on the body of a text and the carcass of an author who has worked hard to produce that text. So we should know from the very beginning that nothing in the order of politeness can be expected from such a boor, from such a scavenger.
But the parasite, this one and only guest at the feast of an author who's given his all, is, funnily enough, the author's only ally. The reader, in his impoliteness, doesn't treat the text as a non-entity. That would be the job of a non-reader, if I’m allowed this simple thought. The text perused by the one who reads it is very much present in the reader's body. The body of work that makes up his or her ecosystem is a body that accumulates reading experiences. A reader is made up of all the texts they have read. Like Giuseppe Arcimboldo's bust of the Librarian, which is a conglomerate of carefully ordered books, the reader too is an atlas of texts. This means that every text is taken carefully. It is read with the intention of enlarging the collection. Of course, as in all collections, some pieces will be valued more, some will be valued less. But none of them will be disregarded. Not even those that have been disrespected, abused, desecrated, murdered. Those more than the highly valued ones, because in order for one to have high regard for an object one needs to have a perfect understanding of the objects of a lesser value. In order to parade with my estimation of haute cuisine I need to know what living on instant noodles is like. Otherwise I would have no point of reference. And so, when I happen upon a sample of haute cuisine I have no idea what miracle I have just encountered. The biblical saying "Do not throw your pearls to pigs" has its origins precisely in this phenomenon.

Source: Colour Music
So it's in the estimation of the marginal that we are to understand the strength of the essence.
The parasite, as an outsider, has this ability to articulate for the body everything that the body has been taking for granted. That's why the speaker of a foreign language can see the shortcomings of the new language, as well as its creative potential, more so than a native speaker of the same. The former comes to the new language as a parasite. He/she attempts to learn the language not by showing respect to it but by defiling it. They learn this language by doing violence to it. But it is in this violence that the language finds the way of moving on, of evolving into something it was not when approached by the native speaker (who is, in the strictest of senses, an epigone, a mere imitator). It is with the Barbarian, therefore, that the hidden potentials of language become apparent, because the Barbarian has no reason to pay homage to something that’s not his/her own. Derrida says this:
“When you introduce something into language, you have to do it in a refined manner, by respecting through disrespect its secret law. That's what might be called unfaithful fidelity: when I do violence to the French language, I do so with the refined respect of what I believe to be an injunction of this language, in its life and in its evolution.

The Barbarian who comes to the new language with the intention to spouse it does so with a clearly preconceived intention of being unfaithful.
The same happens to reading in general (if only for the fact that learning a new language is a way of reading). Reading makes room for the text to expand, to grow to a proportion never intended by the author.