Sunday, March 7, 2010

Reading, Writing, Listening

Norm Geras needs some quiet when reading:

If I'm trying to read - read a book, that is, not a newspaper or a blog post - and there's an audible conversation going on nearby, I can't concentrate and so the reading goes to hell. This, I know from others close to me, is not a universal inability; some people are capable of just shutting out the background noise and losing themselves in the book. But since I can't do that, it drives me nuts if I'm trying to read on the train and there's someone having a long chat on his or her mobes (aka cellphone).
Norm continues in this vein, not quite stating but implying, through the invocation of a few icons of the day (mobile phones, Facebook, and Twitter), that this is a relatively new problem originating with newer technologies. I can report that I had the same problem, if it is a problem, at least as far back as high school, when Al Gore was still tinkering in his garage with what would become the internets.

For as long as I've been trying to do either in any devoted way, I can neither read nor write against a background of talking, and the source of the talking isn't important -- actual overheard human beings are as disruptive as television or lyrics-heavy music. The incoming words I hear trample the words I'm trying to take in or spin out, and it just doesn't work.

It's not old-fangled to need quiet for reading and writing, and it's not a new thing. Is "old-fangled" a valid expression? I'm having a hard time concentrating because the tee-vee is rattling on in the background.


Serah B. said...

If there is a God (which there isn't), He purposefully blessed me with very noisy, noisy children so that it would be virtually impossible for me to ever concentrate on the Satan-inspired, anti-religious philosophy I gravitate toward. It's clearly part of some divine plan to keep me away from such temptation. No wonder it took me so long to become an atheist--it's been too loud around here to think it through properly. And as far as I understand it, the problem of noisy children is as old-fangled as it gets. (If it wasn't a valid expression before, it will be by the end of the day!)

Dale said...

Serah, I think you're too kind. If there is a god (which there isn't), he's not a fan of any kind of book-learnin' -- from the consistent testimony of his biggest fans over the ages, the smell of burning pages pleases him.

Serah B. said...

That may be true, though it's just as hard to burn books around small children as it is to read them...I could easily see my bonfire o' books ending in a house-fire and some charred flesh--although come to think of it, God does seem to delight in charred flesh as well.

Sheldon said...

Me to, I have the same problems. I need quiet to read, and I have a kid and a wife that rarely let me have a moment to read. I am actually getting up at 6 am on the weekends to read, and I try to get an hour in before going to work. Back in the single days I used to soak up whole days and evenings reading. No more. Sucks.

Dale said...

Sheldon, I hope you can find some more time somewhere. I've had pretty good luck reading while I'm on the commute (I don't drive, don't worry) but that involved a learning curve to find a way to be able to read over the din of that. Mostly it involves headphones with the right kind of music to tune out the weirdos on the bus/train.

Serah, mmmmm charred flesh.