Nomadic Reading Room © 2019

June 6, 2017

I once started to write this letter to you. Why did I never send it? Reading is a good place to start. I would like to share libraries, within a library with you.

For me, public libraries are one of the few places in the public sphere where it’s still possible to sit for free without freezing. I re-call a scene in the visual artist Ane Hjort Guttus movie Time Passes, one of the main characters, Bianca are most of the time forced to sit outside in the cold, on the wet streets of Bergen. She collects money to survive the day. Maybe she sends some away, to a kid or two. She keeps herself warm in Bergen’s Public libraries.

It is still possible to sit for free, but the toilets cost money to enter. I spend a lot of time in libraries. Not because of the room temperature. But because it, as a public space is silent. During recent years, it starts to fade away as a space for deep concentration. It is also impossible to lend books without identification papers, address, te...

March 4, 2017

When I read signs and labels and websites around me in Greece, I spell out the letters aloud very very slowly, and I most remind myself of being a child spelling out words on signs when I was learning to read.

When I read things aloud to myself, I understand them in a more intuitive way because the pace of reading is slower and I can feel the shape of the language more physically through my breath.

When I read novels in bed in the evening, I usually can’t stay awake for more than a page.

When I read French, I use neural networks that grew when I was a teenager and I think about how else I might have lived if I’d moved to France when I was eighteen.

When I read Dutch or German, I am comfortable with not really understanding in a detailed way, but with having an understanding that is more about the shapes and feel of the language: a different kind of understanding and meaning.

When I read the news, I often read it on my phone in bed, buses and trains, and I notice tha...

December 7, 2016

What am I reading? (Some thoughts on marginalia)

I spent the latter half of this summer looking wistfully out of the window at people enjoying the unexpectedly nice weather and attempting to write a dissertation. Whilst working my way through a stack of books before embarking on the actual writing bit, I found myself becoming (perhaps disproportionately) enraged by what I saw to be the unnecessary volume of underlined sentences and margin notes in the books that I’d borrowed from the library. This intense irritation came to a head when I reached The Mass Ornament by Siefried Kracauer and came across a page with an indelible biro-scrawled circle over the text itself. ‘Who writes in a library book in pen?’ I huffed to myself. ‘And what was even the point of that circle?’ It seemed to loosely ring the word ‘bodies’ in a paragraph in the titular essay but didn’t appear to mark the significance of the word in any legible way, the uselessness of the gesture annoying m...

July 4, 2016

We stayed at Dad’s every second weekend. Around 5 o’clock on Friday, he would drive to Mum’s to collect us. We’d already be packed and waiting and watching tv or reading or something. On the way back to his place, we’d stop at the Papatoetoe library, which actually wasn’t on the way back but further past Mum’s about the same distance again, but given that was only a bit less than two kilometers, it made sense.

I would find the books I wanted, then watch the goldfish or put books in order that other people had left around messily, until Dad and my brother had finished choosing books too.

Then we’d drive back to his place, sometimes as a treat we would go past Kassina fish and chip shop and get greasies for dinner, or sometimes Chinese. If we got Chinese we would always get egg foo yong and some fried rice and whatever else he and my brother wanted. As long as we got the egg foo yong I was happy. If it were fish and chips I would have a fish and a potato fritter an...

May 16, 2016

 

Recently I've become interested in the act of reading aloud - as performance, as collective experiment and as a political act. 

 

Reading aloud, outside of a context designed for performative action, can be seen as academically immature. Indeed, children learn to read aloud, and then are taught to let the internal voice take over, to grow into discreet, private readers.

 

I find this transition from audible reading to silent reading particularly significant, as it's a shift that is mirrored in human history. The earliest human texts were designed not to be just read but spoken. Cuneiform picture-symbols did not generate meaning in themselves; they signified sounds, and it was the sound that conveyed the meaning. In A History of Reading Alberto Manguel points out that "the primordial languages of the Bible - Aramaic and Hebrew - do not differentiate between the act of reading and the act of speaking; they name both with the same word." Arguably today we still perfo...

February 23, 2016

History of GHOST CLUB

 

Ghost club was a cooperative founded at Solent Junior School, Portsmouth in 1997. The club met regularly to enact the improvisational, speculative and performative process of Ghost Hunting.

 

Ghost Club was an experimental form of play. The GHOSTS were the immaterial vehicle for an improvised dramatic exchange on the non-sensical, whimsical and obscure. Leadership was taken by which ever member had seen a GHOST at any given meeting. The peripatetic group established a collective form of story-telling, mediated by the leader to create a narrative within a set (lunch)time. There is no documentation from GHOST CLUB. It was about sharing the immediacy of the encounter. You had to be there. It was about MAKING IT UP AS YOU GO ALONG.

 

Ghost club ran on a membership scheme where members joined for the nominal price of fifty pence a year, a fee which included a laminated identity card. Membership rarely exceeded six.

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