Reader’s Block. It works like this:
- I buy book.
- I stare at pages.
- I fall asleep and have no idea what I read.
I’m not really sure if I can attribute a precipitous drop in reading acumen to my mere 47 years on the earth, but I can certainly foment a personal paranoia about it.
This is partly because I extruded some coffee out of my Kuerig coffee maker the other day, and instead of grabbing the squeeze-bottled, liquid sweetener called “Organic Blue Agave,” I grabbed the LITERALLY blue dish soap and laid it to waste.
On top of that, I forgot to use the casing for the filtering screen when I did make the coffee, and thus poured out a ridiculous amount of grounds–that would’ve ruined my morning ritual anyway, the minute I took a sip.
My wife immediately starts some sort of understated, prognosticatory dissertations about “brain tumors,” and such. I didn’t laugh at this. Probably because the malignancy is pushing on my humor lobe.
Now, I have friends that will tell me that I can offset the Blitzkreig of this invasive, fibrous neoplasm by knocking off the near symbiotic use of my Iphone—but only if I make the compensatory behavioral pivot to green smoothies.
The advent of the omnipresent “screen” has changed everything. And while this little post will not be footnoted with research material, it still should at least stand amongst the also-ran pillars of what is a little-known concept known as “common sense.”
Without a doubt, screens are recalibrating our minds, our interactions, our relationships—and even our physiology. The recent story of a man whose extended use of a smart phone in the dark has resulted in a detatched retina should give one pause. Clearly, that guy has a problem, we say. Clearly that man has crossed a line of addcition to a point that we can only stand and watch.
Even worse, the guy was probably looking up invasive brain tumors on WEB M.D.
But really. It started to hit me that I do not have to be glued to my Iphone in perma-scroll mode to have viable, adverse issues. One of the reasons I do not play video games is because I have an actual—though undiagnosed—neurological malfunction that causes my hands to shake. I literally had to stop playing Super Mario Bros., WII Edition because of this. I simply, overtly, and materially—cannot do it.
Yet, I’ve been staring at, navigating, clicking and scrolling on screens for years, reading blogs, news quips, emails and synoptic rundowns. All with zero tangible cognitive resistance. Plus, I’ve watched Bruce Jenner’s face transmogrify into a time-lapsed, erstwhile Michael Jackson in the advertising margins.
That’s right. This thousand-yard-stare has legs.
So I am certain that my hippocampus is cowering in the corner, afraid that it will be forced to read something that doesn’t contain some snarky, backlit Cliff’s Noted trilogy without a scroll option. And that will have to be the expurgated version. Thank you.
I can write with almost no aerodynamic resistance. I can re-read what I’ve written, but I assume that I’m either a narcissist, or that I’m already 9/10’s in the game, since my review deals with clarification, and not comprehension.
I’ve tried to read Strangers in the Land by Stant Litore on my Ipad. I’ve tried to read Peace Like a River by Leif Enger on my Nook. Both of these books are hailed by people I respect as some of the best fiction on the planet. Yet, I CANNOT—get off the Launchpad. I can’t even be as cognitively pathetic as the Spruce Goose—I don’t even get a disastrous maiden flight.
I figure, since I’ve already diagnosed myself somewhere between the margins of a cerebral cuttlefish and a neurological neuter—I may as well do my own labs.
- I grabbed my Iphone and took a picture of my Nook, and sent it to my Ipad.
- Page one: read and savored.
- I screen shot my Ipad, and sent it to my phone.
- Had to zoom in and move around, but for some STUPID reason, I am into chapter two.
Of course, I had to delete pictures after a while. And of course this led to me hitting my Safari icon to “check the news.” Then to my traffic stats. Then, I have to approve new comments on the blog. Off to emails, and FaceBook notifications regarding this blog—and then the slow, gradual descent into Sheol.
Next thing I know, my cerebellum is wandering around the desert like The Eagles on a photographic jaunt with a peyote-button after-market addition.
The person that can invent a “patch” that will replace whatever figurative electrolytes are lost to all this will be a millionaire overnight.
Until then, I’m taping a Nook to my arm when I go to sleep.
Note: hat tip to Jodie Llewellyn for the term “Reader’s Block.” I told you it’d pay off.
I’m 50 and I have these forgetful moments. It’s developmental to an extent, and partly our revved up lifestyles that lay waste to our bodies via our HPA axis in. In other words – stress. My wife also does the “brain tumor” or some other deadly disease thing (I should probably add in jest). Theoretically, our increased wisdom and experience in life is supposed to make up for the inevitable effects of senescence.
The etiology of my “Reader’s Block” is this:
I see a book I think I might be interested in. I buy it. I put it on my shelf to “read at some point.” After several months to over a year I think I ought to read it since I bought it, and it moves to my bed stand. I decide to play guitar rather than expend mental energy and read. I feel the need at least try to read the book. I read a few pages and get so tired I go to bed. I repeat the play guitar/reading process numerous times and slowly make progress in the book. I start several other books so I never really finish anything. All theories aside on how the screen is rewiring our brain and distracting us from being focused on one task, I think with me it is fundamentally a discipline issue.
“Peace Like a River” is very good – at least the Reader’s Digest abridged version I read.
Your only antidote is more Tenkara – less electronics. Oh, and Green Smoothies are quite soothing when you can’t quite duplicate those fuzzy things that are hatching all around you.
My 82-year-old dad, is a retired FBI Agent and a ‘car’ guy from way back. At ten, his first auto job was at his father’s gas station where he ‘learned’ cars inside and out. Today, whether he’s viewing an antique auto and stating its specific model year and corresponding stats…or recounting an old FBI story (he worked many mafia cases) hIs attention to detail always astounds me. When telling his fact-filled narratives, he occasionally gets frustrated because he might forget one person’s name. Then he gets annoyed with himself and says how dumb he’s getting. To which I always respond – “dad, as dumb as you think you’re getting, I’ve never been able to remember anything at anytime.”
I love reading wonderful books. But, it’s frustrating to read then forget what I’ve read within a short period of time. I once began writing summaries of the books. Perhaps, I should think about picking my book journal up again (I forgot where I put it). 🙂
The posts on this blog indicate it’s author is in possession of a brilliant mind – and I’m guessing this particular mind has amazing storage capacity. I wouldn’t worry too much… Like my father, if you occasionally forget something, you’re still leagues ahead of others in the memory game.
With the exception of your compliment to me. This is practically a stand-alone post:)
Thank you so much!
No thank you, for your amazing writing! I need to occasionally bust out my old Webster’s when I read your posts – I love it! Your posts are endearingly intellectual, entertaining and just plain fun…
In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger – “I’ll be back”
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