Why I Read

I read to expand my mind. My ability to think is limited to my imagination. The heart produces the action, the mind the material.

Each narrative provides a landscape of resources to utilize. These resources provide us the tools and material to construct coherent thoughts.

Each books contains not only content, but form. Content is the building material. Form is the style in which it is build, which not only informs the aesthetic, but the integrity of our ideas.

When I pick up a book and begin reading, my subconscious is poised with questions, ready to grab hold of every idea that resonates.

I capture sentences and store them deep in my mind, cataloguing them with their sisters and brothers hard at work building the cathedral of my world paradigm.

Poetry produces metaphors of feeling that render ideas meaningful, by transcending the habituated way we look at the world.

Every book is a vessel filled with ideas of different shapes and size that, when plucked and laid out before me, I choose at will to utilize in my own constructions. Yes I want those ideas to fit together within the authors intended message, but I’m more interested in how that message fits within the monuments of knowledge built within my own mind. I must make those ideas my own, riveting them to my own house, and now just admiring them from a cold distance.

Everything can be used to build a better mind. Every experience, every feeling, every conversation, every book.

Why do books stand out? Because they provide static, enduring ideas that can be repeatedly impressed in the mind at will.

Our mind is like clay. It hardens when we cease wondering, and find ourselves content with the hut we’ve already build. For those with insatiable imaginations, no hut will be sufficient to store all the dreams that accumulate day and night. For those minds, there must be ample space to extend the imagination, kingdoms to house the endless flow of feeling that stirs the mind to collect and fashion new knowledge and build the complex theater of inner life.

With every gasp of wonder, every glimpse of curiosity, we pose a question to the world, and create a space for impressions. We maintain this space for as long as possible, gathering information to repeatedly impress on our mind, until this clay has definite shape and form for its intended purpose.

I gather information like I gather berries or hunt for sustenance, exploring the wilderness, venturing outside my domain, beyond the castle of certainty, through the brush that pricks at my skin, where terrifying darkness and monsters lurk. I collect this sustenance until my mind cannot sustain my legs, and I bring it back to my homestead where I can fashion it into something useful. Once the wilderness has been penetrated, it becomes familiar, so that I can travel there blind if needed, and the darkness no longer seems to matter. The monsters transform into neighbors, some to be avoided, others to befriend.

Books fill me with delight. They cast new light on old ideas.

Readers are miners, and thinkers are architects. Those with heart build.

You cannot build without material, and you cannot build lasting structures without the right material. The quest is the search for as much of the right material as possible.

There is one book I’ve only skimmed, that I’m dying to read. This happens to be most of my books, but this book in particular, as I have it out in view for me to see as often as possible, to goad me into picking it up again. The title is “The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain” by Terrence W. Deacon.

The reason this book has captured my attention is due to my fascination with language and symbols, which are the very essence of thinking. These are the tools in which we communicate and establish ideas and knowledge between humanity and the world. How did it happen that humans evolved language whereas all other animals stopped at communication?

Language and symbols cannot exist without memory, but there is something deeper, some deeper structure within the brain that takes those memories, and organizes them into logical associations that other minds can infer meaning from.

Language and symbols are what culture is made of, what frames the mind and attitudes of a collective.

It’s not the time to dive into too much detail. I have to work. I’ve worked only a few hours today. But I wanted to mention it to reinforce within myself the desire to read the book, and think more on this subject.

The mind is a reflection of the culture which nurtured it.

If we can understand how this culture came to be, we may understand the mind a little better.

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