Taking Notes: 'My Window Is Your Mirror, My Mirror Is Your Wall, My Wall Is Your Window' (2006) by Matthew Cheney

上回 Jay Tomio 那篇提到評論者的責任,而 Strange Horizons 所刊載的這篇文章,講的則是讀者對自身義務所應有的體認,尤其是需要大量精讀的學校學徒。

讀者不能奢望作家們專寫符合你程度或閱讀習慣的東西,必須要靠自己的努力,想辦法領略其中的意涵,這樣的過程事實上也能激發閱讀的樂趣。如果真的沒辦法理解,對於一般讀者而言,大可以放棄不看;至於學徒呢,很抱歉,誰教你是學徒......8-p 不過,再怎麼讀不懂,也別說作者在「自爽」,因為這樣講的話,會連帶侮辱到那些讀得懂,並且樂在其中的其他讀者。

乍看之下,本文和 Tomio 的文章似乎有所衝突。其實任何文本均先適用本文,對於評論者來說,讀懂之後,Tomio 那篇才能適用。那「誤讀」了怎麼辦?不怎麼辦啊,「誤讀」加上「對話」更是促進瞭解的手段之一,沒什麼不好嘛!

Matthew Cheney, "My Window Is Your Mirror, My Mirror Is Your Wall, My Wall Is Your Window" in Strange Horizon


paragraph 5:
There is no such thing as "accessible writing." There is writing that is, under some conditions, accessible to certain audiences. But even that statement is not entirely true, because it presumes we can say that something definitely did or definitely did not communicate everything it was supposed to communicate. ("Supposed to" according to whom?) However, I don't want to get into an abstruse philosophical argument here about whether anything can be defined, etc., because I have a practical point to move toward. Let's just make the stategic decision to accept the statement, "There is writing that is, under some conditions, accessible to certain audiences," and go from there.
paragraph 8:
The accessibility of these sentences has nothing to do with their value. They are not useful or interesting sentences to a child just learning to read (and to whom they are inaccessible), but they are also not likely to be of much use or interest to a graduate student in literary theory, either, at least not if that person is looking for some new and original insight, because, despite the accessibility of these ideas to such a person, there is nothing particularly new or original here.
paragraph 10:
To cry that a type of writing "is not accessible" and then to decry that "writing should be accessible" is to make a narcissistic claim. The claim builds off the expectation that what you read should conform to the conventions you know and are most comfortable with. It universalizes personal preferences. It is a totalitarian impulse.
paragraph 14:
The fear of inaccessibility, and the contemptuous insults that arise from that fear, are linked to fears of ignorance, fears that there are things in the world that cannot be grasped, pleasures that are not universal, ideas too complex for every mind to comprehend, beauties visible only to some people, miracles that affect the few.
paragraph 15:
The push for writing to be "accessible" to a general audience fails to question the assumptions that allow a concept of a "general audience" to make any sense, and it seeks to force writers to work within conventions of writing that may involve compromises the writer does not want (or need) to make.
paragraph 23:
...... I have struggled for a long time to develop the skills to read complex texts. I am not always successful; in fact, more often than not I fail to comprehend writing I would like to be able to comprehend. Sometimes I get too tired. Sometimes I read too quickly. Sometimes I want easy reading. Sometimes I want to forget about shared conventions, to let them stay invisible and unquestioned. Sometimes I think ideas should be presented in the clearest possible prose, and ideas that are not must be hiding something. Sometimes.
paragraph 24:
But most writers are not paid well for their work, and most poets are not drug addicts. Great writers strive—they strive for effects of language, they strive to convey complex ideas, they strive to communicate across the gulf of potential incomprehensions lurking between each person. Readers must sometimes strive, too, if they want to reach toward the greater accomplishments of human art and thought. There is a difference between what is easy and what is rewarding, although neither is mutually inclusive or exclusive.
paragraph 29:
Perhaps what we need is to stop talking about "accessibility," to admit it is a concept that leads us only to insupportable generalizations and insulting accusations.
paragraph 30:
Communication is all about shared definitions and shared knowledge. But it is also about shared desires, shared fears, and shared experiences.

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