Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

What Happens When We Read? ~ Part One


We’ve had six posts, so far, in this series.

We looked at words as Metaphysical Entities, explored the Source of Real Words (the Collective Unconscious), and traced the mysterious path of those slippery yet powerful words through the other domains of our minds till they reached our Brain and spilled out on the screen or some good old-fashioned paper.

I always hesitate to ask visitors to go back and read previous posts since I haven’t yet broken myself completely from the belief that blogs are only to be read in the Now—leaving behind the past, not caring too much for the future, just entertaining us for a few brief minutes.

I may not have broken myself completely from that popular belief but I’m sufficiently clear of it to urge you to back-up and click on the link that began this post. If you’ve already read those posts, scan them to refresh your mind; if you haven’t read them, I sincerely encourage you to do that. You’ll thank me later :-)

Now, let’s explore what happens when we turn on the screen or pick up the paper and read a set of words—Correction: our eyes read Word-Symbols, physical entities that are clues, triggering our minds to find the actual words and make sense of them.

The previous posts in this series introduced you to the Collective Unconscious, the Personal Unconscious, and the Shadow. I’ll assume you’re well-acquainted with your Conscious Mind, Brain, and Body :-)

So, there are the word-symbols and the eye is scanning them.

The brain registers this and begins its decoding process—sending the potential words to the conscious mind.

The conscious mind takes some infinitesimally small amount of time to check with the personal unconscious—accessing memory stores and correlating meanings already learned with the translated word-symbols.

During that same ultra-short period of time, the Shadow makes its contribution to the meanings. If the conscious mind is on good terms with the Shadow, the words arising in the mind will have the benefit of wearing uncommon and personalized meanings along with the more “standard” ones stored in the personal unconscious. If the conscious mind is in a state of ignorance about the contents of the Shadow, the word-meanings can become “warped” and we may end up completely misunderstanding the meaning the author is trying to convey (part two of this topic will explore, in a bit more depth, the difference between what the author intends and what the reader gets)

Also during that ultra-short period of time, various word-combinations may trigger the collective unconscious. This can bring up some extremely powerful images and energies. We may have to stop reading to grasp what’s happening, we may slam the book shut or close the computer file, we may be taken into a dream-realm

So, what about all those images in our conscious mind while we’re reading? Well, they sure aren’t created in our small and cramped ego-consciousness.

Let’s say the word-symbols on the screen/page are: “John walked down the dirt road, happy that he had no idea where he was going.”

“John walked down the dirt road…”, will more than likely call up images stored in the personal unconscious, though, if you asked a thousand readers to describe that dirt road, you’d have a thousand different dirt roads, depending on the individual reader’s experience. {imagine for a second a reader who had never seen or read about a dirt road…}

Of course, if a reader had been down some dirt roads, the image would be colored with some blend of those experiences. If they’d had a scare while on a dirt road, that feeling-image may come to mind and they may worry about John.

If they’d been on a dirt road as a child and had an adult molest them, as well as having consigned that memory to their Shadow, they may break out in a sweat and have an anxiety attack

So, no matter what the response the many realms of our mind have handed us about John and his dirt road, we come upon the word-symbols, “…happy that he had no idea where he was going.”

That part of the sentence will heavily depend for its meaning on how we’ve conceived of John and what dirt roads mean to us but

Since most folks seem to, most often, like to know where they’re going, the fact that John was happy about not knowing has the potential for inducing some very strong feeling-images.

I would absolutely *love* to know what you felt and imaged as you read that sentence: “John walked down the dirt road, happy that he had no idea where he was going.”

On to Part Two :-)

Read The Other Posts In This Series
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11 responses to “What Happens When We Read? ~ Part One

  1. Simone Benedict June 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    John may be like me. Walking down a dirt road is best done barefoot. That way your shoes don’t get dirty. It only works if John has tough soles like mine. If not, he can kick rocks with his old boots as he walks because that’s fun too.

    All paved roads may lead to Rome, but not all dirt roads do. Usually all dirt roads lead to a paved road or a dead end. You’re right about it depending on the person, but for me a person will only be walking down a dirt road if they want a relaxing walk or they’ve run out of gas. Since you wrote John was happy, I know he hasn’t run out of gas.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai June 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm

      So, Simone, what about the fact that John was happy because he didn’t know where he was going?

      I imagine you’ve had a similar feeling at some point in your life :-) ?

      Like

      • Simone Benedict June 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm

        Well, there are innummerable dirt roads behind my house that lead to no place in particular.

        I have to admit on a regular basis like the bear who went over the mountain, I head off down a dirt road just to see what I can see. I can understand why John feels happy. Maybe he just wants to see what comes to him without having a destination in mind?

        Like

        • Alexander M Zoltai June 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm

          Maybe that is what John wants

          I don’t know since that sentence was created completely out of context

          Perhaps a few more comments from other readers will clear this up :-)

          Like

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