You might have heard about people reading hundreds of books per year. “Be wary of fast readers,” said Gore Vidal once, himself a voracious reader and scholar, he was aware of pitfalls of too fast too much. ‘Photoreading’ is a process by which you can increase your reading speed as much as 100 times! Paul Scheele is a pioneer in the field of accelerated learning and Photoreading and he is an ardent advocate of speed reading. Skeptics look at speed reading as suitable only for ‘just a few’ applications, if any.
I don’t belong to the category of those skeptics but I have never acquired mastery in photoreading because I never wanted to flood myself with information. Photoreading might be a great meta-technique for many applications, but I recommend slow reading for the purpose of augmenting one’s knowledge. Slow reading helps you look at words and if you find etymologies, word-families, derivatives and phrases exceedingly engrossing, you must cultivate the habit of reading slowly. Slow reading could act as a potential meditation tool.
In his brilliant article, Patrick Kingsley talks about slow reading in detail. A brief excerpt :
“Slow reading,” writes Miedema, “is a community event restoring connections between ideas and people. The continuity of relationships through reading is experienced when we borrow books from friends; when we read long stories to our kids until they fall asleep.” Meanwhile, though the movement began in academia, Tracy Seeley, an English professor at the University of San Francisco, and the author of a blog about slow reading, feels strongly that slow reading shouldn’t “just be the province of the intellectuals. Careful and slow reading, and deep attention, is a challenge for all of us.”
So the movement’s not a particularly cohesive one – as Malcolm Jones wrote in a recent Newsweek article, “there’s no letterhead, no board of directors, and, horrors, no central website” – and nor is it a new idea: as early as 1623, the first edition of Shakespeare’s folio encouraged us to read the playwright “again and again”; in 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche described himself as a “teacher of slow reading”; and, back in the 20s and 30s, dons such as IA Richards popularised close textual analysis within academic circles.
Slow reading helps when you are doing it to learn something along with high concentration on the medium in which this learning has been presented. If you intend to study the style, punctuation, verbiage, flow and quintessence of the message you’re reading, you ought to read it meticulously and slowly. It’s not about comprehension, it’s about absorption, analysis, comparison and meditation. This type of reading is not well-suited for most of the message types most of the times. But there is certain area of messages which must be read as slowly as possible and if you could just scribble for a while, after reading every two pages or so, it would become a marvellous practice to glean knowledge and to use it with Socratic Method of Freenoting. Freenoting was developed by Win Wenger. In Freenoting, you just keep on scribbling whatever comes to your mind, with as much of speed as possible, no matter whether it seems relevant or important or not. Freenoting and slow reading make for a great meta-technique combination to increase your perceptivity.
I thank Rashmi of Mind and Life Matters for the inspiration.
Image Source: Slow Reading