So, this is the new year. I’m very fortunate in that I was given (and can take) the opportunity to relax, defocus, and reflect, and something that I come back year after year is the intention to write. Write more, write better, write for me, write for others. It doesn’t seem to happen. In mathematics, when you can’t get at what you want the direct way, you can come at it from the other side. So I started thinking about how I read.
I’ve always thought that I’m a slow reader and it turns out that I subvocalize when I read (and when I do math). That I’ve been punishing myself with subvocalization was quite a realization and I can now put a label on it and take steps to improve my reading, my comprehension, and my overall purpose while reading.
Which gets to the heart of the matter: why am I reading anything at all? What’s in it for me? I feel as if I’ve not consciously asked this question of myself in my waking memory. To date, I know that I am reading a book to finish it, to acquire knowledge, to integrate it into my being so that if someone asks me about it I can give them an honest and relevant and direct and precise support or criticism. This has proven to be an insurmountable goal, for I read everyone’s prose as a mathematical proof, where every word has been isolated and selected to provide necessary meaning.
Sincerely thinking hard about why I am reading something has already helped me read faster–skim paragraphs, pages even–at the cost of being able to recite the book when asked (which I couldn’t even do). That’s okay.
So what does this have to do with my support of the Gender Book? Various things, the first of which is that I support people participating in the current and important dialog about non-binary gender and gender self-identification. Another, though, is that the Gender Book is something real, personal, engaging, and I think necessary. The notification that there’s a new Japanese whiskey on sale from a liquor store in NYC from which I once ordered a small batch of vodka is not necessary to me. Neither is the fact that there’s a class at the Tustin REI that I can’t go to, nor that StumbleUpon have found more unnecessary things for me to read.
Sure, by opting out I am opting out: I won’t learn about certain offers or deals or current events in the same timescale or at all. I may opt-in again at some point. But my choice to unsubscribe from the unnecessary and legitimately support the ones I find necessary is what I’m trying out as a 2014 resolution. Maybe from this absurd reduction to only reading what’s necessary, I’ll get a better handle on the things I find it necessary to write. We’ll see how far it gets me.
Happy New Year and 2014.