Saturday, December 27, 2014
Reading for Meaning
Reading with the eyes only is not reading. Likewise seeing an image only with the eyes is not to see. The Catholic Times' column: Electronic and Book World wants us to reflect on the meaning of these words.
What we see, read or hear requires an effort to interpret the meaning. We are living, buried in an avalanche of information and when it gives no meaning to our lives it is of little value. There is much reading with little understanding which makes us functionally illiterate. She quotes Alvin Toffler who said that modern illiterates: "no longer want to learn and are not able to read the information they receive."
When I read something and remember it there is some meaning. The difference between meaning and no meaning is vast. When we read or see something this should not be a simply act of reading but with perception we gain knowledge and meaning by the process of interpretation. This requires the activity of the mental and spiritual dimensions of the person. A research team at Washington University in the science of the mind, she explains, discovered when something was see without any meaning only a small area at the back of the brain was activated but when the same thing was see and given meaning new channels were opened. The moment meaning was added to the reading more neurons in the brain were activated, two and three times more. When we perceive and interpret, our mental world can't help but be changed.
Don't we say we see the world with the personality we have developed? We perceive and act according to the meaning we have given to what we have seen, heard and have become aware. When we stay at the level of seeing and hearing and don't enter the process to find meaning, we have no hope of changing the way we live. What we see is not the real, but we make it real by our awareness and interpretation. It will depend on how much meaning I can give to what I read that will make the world come to me. Daily we have to ask ourselves are we encountering the real world?
Daily, in the subway, walking, in the work place when we are fingering for words, images and sound are we just seeing and enjoying the superficial world in which we are in, and live without meaning as a wanderer and illiterate?