JOHN SCHWARTZ talks to clients about “sitting forward” or “sitting back” styles of reading. Media theorist HELEN KATZ describes those styles thus:
Lean forward, where the reader is actively controlling the flow of information.
*Lean back**, where the reader passively consumes information in a way that the author has directed.
My question about all this is: And then? You rush through the writing, the researching, the watching, the listening, you’re done with it, you get it behind you — and what is in front of you?
The whole attitude seems to be: Let me get through this thing I don’t especially enjoy so I can do another thing just like it, which I won’t enjoy either. This is precisely what Paul Virilio means when he talks about living at a “frenetic standstill”…
I also get the urge to push through and finish things for the sake of finishing them, but I try not to yield to it; I want to separate my personal pleasures from the accomplishment mindset.
It’s hard to be patient in an accelerating, sense-stunning culture, with our media becoming faster paced and our attention withering as writing gets shorter and pithier and video and audio replace writing.
I think growing our patience and resisting instant gratification are more ways to reclaim our lives from capitalism. Accepting some friction if that means interacting with other humans instead of using technological replacements or supporting companies designed to eliminate humans. Investing time in looking for interesting things on my own and experimenting with media I might not like instead of accepting ‘good enough’ stuff fed to me by the algorithm.
Anna carries a book around the house the same way the rest of us carry our phones. She reads it in those same moments when the rest of us reach for the comfort of our black mirror.
I already read a lot, but like this idea of replacing the phone as my go-to distraction around the house with a book.