Reflection “on the Cult of Books”

By Yariana Pino Sánchez

A teacher selects a pupil, but a book does not select its teachers, who may be wicked or stupid

Jorge Luis Borges

Prompt #1

As I read Jorge Luis Borges’ “On the Cult of Books” out loud, I realized how much control the reader has over the text. After finishing the prompt, I realized that plays are stories or books purposefully related to be read out loud and to an audience. I understand those to be the proper environment to read a text out loud. Even without realizing, the context or narrative of the author could be completely warped into a completely different experience because of the readers’ past experiences or understanding of the text. I would only feel comfortable reading a publication that was made to be read out loud by the author so that I am not overstepping a boundary. When reading the text myself, I usually interpret the writing to the best way I can understand it, but out of respect for the author and their creative aesthetic, I would only prefer the author read it to others instead of myself. The quote selected above stood out to me because of how it mirrors the power the reader has because of its ability to warp a writing however they want. This way there is respect for the author and their creation and it is not altered to be something the author did not mean or want it to be and the emphasis of the writing can be selected by the author as well.

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5 thoughts on “Reflection “on the Cult of Books””

  1. That’s a good point– that readers would probably read a book aloud differently than the author would. I think this divergence is more probable depending on the type of literature. In orating children’s books, for example, one probably won’t deviate very far from the author’s intention, but works of irony or satire might be completely misconstrued.

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  2. I like how you offer multiple points for your reader to consider when interpreting a text that is read aloud versus a text that is read silently. Most notably, I found it interesting how you describe how much control the reader grasps when reading a text aloud and how this can affect how the audience perceives the texts’ purpose. In addition, you pointed out a crucial point for understanding the point of view and presentation style for different types of readings, which gave me a new appreciation for approaching different types of texts in the future.

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  3. It’s interesting you brought up the part about plays because I actually briefly mentioned it in my post. While I’m not sure I said it as well as you did, I also said — or wanted to say — that even plays are given the reigns when someone is performing in it. Actors may very well enjoy the take their using, but the reader could have a completely different direction; all because they heard a certain word being stressed in their heads while the actor chose another word to stress, giving it an entirely new meaning.

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  4. Yes!! I completely agree with the control a reader has over the text! Once the author sends off their work, its completely at the mercy of the reader. Even the smallest thing as the inflection added to word, even if you’re reading it silently in your head, you could be “hearing” it differently than the author had intended. It’s almost like the game of Telephone or the Rumor Game from when we were kids. One person starts the message and it gets passed down the line or group and with each person it passes by, the message changes a little bit, but its enough to change the piece. The way you read something, the way you interpret something, the way you imagine the characters, everything is subjective in the hands of the reader.

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  5. I’m so stuck on your assertion that reading aloud can feel appropriative: “I would only feel comfortable reading a publication that was made to be read out loud by the author so that I am not overstepping a boundary.” It’s really interesting how, by reading something out loud–bringing our own inflections and voice and tone and mouth, etc.–we might feel like we’re taking a kind of ownership of it. It presupposes the idea that the text is the ‘author’s’ and not the ‘reader’s’–or it puts the text in a kind of tug-of-war between author and reader. I’m fascinated by the idea that reading silently feels more passive, less grabby, less boundary-crossing.

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