Thursday, March 15, 2007


I just finished reading the novel "Hit List" by Lawrence Block. I haven't been reading enough lately, content instead to fill my time passively sitting in front of the TV watching a show or a movie.

Instead of a reality someone created with sets, actors, lights and cameras in productions that can cost millions of dollars that conveniently lays everything out for you, reading delves you into a world created entirely by a single person, sitting somewhere, typing.

But there's a catch. The author encodes his imaginings into "idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines of twenty-six phoenetic symbols, ten numbers and about eight punctuation marks," as Kurt Vonnegut described written English in his book "Timequake."

Reading the book is the process of decoding those symbols, numbers and punctuation marks arranged idiosyncratically in horizontal lines back into imagery. My brain has to picture what each character and setting looks like. It must imagine the voices and the sounds.

It's amazing when you consider it. The way one of my brothers explains it, it's the same process now used to carry telephone calls over the Internet. One person talks into a gadget. It doesn't send the sound waves to to the other person, it turns them into packets of data and carries them to a gizmo at the other person's end (as opposed to the person's other end, which would be how digestion works not Internet telephony), which turns them back into sounds.

And, yes, I too enjoyed seeing gadgets and gizmos working harmoniously.


Ziluo Behnzukeh said...

I just happened to randomly come across your blog and I love the whole description you gave about reading.

John said...

Many thanks for the kind words.