Nomadic Reading Room © 2019

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...

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