Amaranth Borsuk uses phrase: “inviting eye and ear” when describing the Quechua language that is being used in a khipu. Although a khipu is an early form of a recording device made of strings and is most definitely not a book like the ones we read today with words and phrases written down I could not help but to look at that phrase and think of books. I believe that all books should be an invitation for the senses and that if it isn’t doing any beckoning of any kind then there is no point of being a book in the first place.
My copy of Maria Negroni’s Night Journey is a beautifully written piece of work about different dreams that Negroni had herself. I was lucky enough to ask her when she visited the SVC campus in early 2019 if any of the dreams had meant anything, to which she responded that they had no meaning and that if they did she did not want to know what the meanings were. I was crushed on the inside, because I believed – and still believe to this day – that her dreams did have some meaning to them. The descriptions held such passion and heartache and loss, which made it seem impossible for me to think the dreams were merely accidental within her subconscious.
Aside from the cover image, the outside of the book is a matte black color that wouldn’t normally beckon someone to rsvp to its invitation. It feels smooth to the touch and sticky in some places where I’ve tried to remove the library stickers. Granted, I purchased this book online as used and I did not steal it from the library myself. Attempting to peel away those stickers was a way for me to establish the book as my own. There’s another sticker in the back telling me this book is from Queens Library and a stamp on the side of the pages that says Jackson Heights. If the two places are at all related to each then I do not know for sure, but something tells me this book has seen a lot of libraries in its past.
The inside pages are split between the same poem on either side – one written in Spanish and one translated into English. It’s like reading the same journey through a different lens. The text is written in what I would call the cool older brother of the comic sans font and it’s quite small, almost as if it’s sucking you further into the pages until it’s just you and the words themselves. The story itself is completely immersive and takes the reader through various dreams that seem unknown, but eerily familiar at the same time. The contents of Negroni’s dreams may not be the same as everyone else’s but the emotion and the feelings behind them are very intuitive. My favorite part about this book would have to be the message written on the first page:
“For Amanda, these dreams with meaning or not meaning at all, With affection, Maria 2019″
Whenever I think about reading something, whether it be for school or for leisure, I never stop to wonder if I should read out loud or silently to myself. I always read silently, because I feel that reading out loud can require more energy when energy is not needed. I find it’s like taking the long way home when I know I could’ve gone the shorter way instead. However, reading out loud is nice for whenever there are no time constraints and I really want to focus a little more on the words that I’m reading. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I prefer to read silently, but I can understand and appreciate the reasoning behind reading out loud.
After I finished reading Borges’s essay the first time through without saying any words aloud I didn’t really notice much at first, because that’s how I usually read. Once I finished and prepared myself to read it again out loud it suddenly occurred to me how strange the first person who read silently to themselves must have felt! Surely, it’s a silly thought, but it was enough for me to consider how we humans approach the concept of silence. We need silence to feel relaxed and to concentrate, but refuse silence whenever we’re alone at night or amongst people we care about. It’s strange and almost hypocritical in a way; only wanting silence when it suits us most.
Upon reading through the essay a second time, I noticed that reading aloud felt more like an emotional task. I felt like I was attaching myself to these words and that they were becoming more etched into my brain. The way I phrased the words out loud seemed more monumental, as if I were making some grand proposal to a group of colleagues at an office firm. The words in my head sounded generic for lack of a better word. Maybe it’s due to the lack of an audience, because after all I don’t need to impress myself by reading in some grandeur manner. Audiences want to hear what you have to say and they won’t be able to hear anything if you’re reading silently to yourself.
Regarding the moment when St. Augustine comes across St. Ambrose silently reading to himself, he claims that perhaps St. Ambrose wished to “protect himself in case he had a hearer interested and intent on the matter”, with matter meaning whatever subject he was reading. I agree that this is another reason I don’t read aloud in public, for I wouldn’t want any nosy person to know what I’m reading and try to give their opinions or have me explain to them what I’m reading or why. These days it is quite easy to get into arguments with people over a difference in beliefs, such as reading preferences for instance. Another reason to consider why I don’t read out loud would be that I wouldn’t wish to disturb other people and because I simply would prefer not to embarrass myself. I don’t need to read a book out loud in front of strangers like I’m trying to recite Shakespeare (although that would be a very fun and interesting public exercise!)