On 23 May 2018, we explored the relation between reading and slowness through an experimental, experiential approach. Taking its point of departure from Michelle Boulous Walker’s Slow Philosophy: Reading Against the Institution and Georges Perec’s ‘Reading: A Socio-physiological Outline’, this reading group session, led by Emma Cocker, considered: What might a ‘critical poetic’ mode of reading look/feel like? What kinds of (alternative) knowledge or ‘sense making’ are produced through experimental practices of reading?
Different methods of reading can generate different registers of affect; there is scope for testing experimental tactics. Texts do not always need to be read in a linear or logical way, but rather can be dipped into, allowing for detours and distractions. A single sentence might open in one book, close in another. Certain sections are lingered over, whilst others skimmed past. Reading is not bound by the chronology of a text’s unfolding. Attention can be activated mid-sentence or half way down a page. Words are sonorous as much as signifying units; the soundness of a text tested by tongue and lips as much as by the mind. Certain language must be rolled in the mouth before it can be fully digested. Texts resonate at different frequencies according to their enunciation. New meanings are revealed by changed inflection, in the pauses and durations breathed between the words. (Emma Cocker, fragments from ‘Reading Towards Becoming Causal’, in Reading/Feeling: Affect Reader, If I Can’t Dance … 2013)