Unlike modern readers, who follow the flow of a narrative from beginning to end, early modern Englishmen read in fits and starts and jumped from book to book. They broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebooks. Then they reread the copies and rearranged the patterns while adding more excerpts. Reading and writing were therefore inseparable activities. They belonged to a continuous effort to make sense of things, for the world was full of signs: you could read your way through it; and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own, one stamped with your personality.
You are here. Looking at the text in front of you. Perhaps, wondering if you will read it, just as I'm wondering whether or not to write it. If you don't read it, the individual words could exist as pure material, spread over the pages generating a rhythm, constructed by abstract forms. Only in that moment can the text be perceived as material, not yet inflicted by your background and exist within the constrains of its contours. If I hadn't written this text then there would only be an idea, a thought shaped as an image in my mind. It would exist in an abstract form not yet imposed upon the materiality of the words or the act of writing it down. As I precede writing, this form gains distance from the image becoming material waiting for excavation.
'There is a moment in the life of a man — consequently, in the life of men — when everything is completed, the books written, the universe silent, beings at rest. There is left only the task of announcing it: this is easy. But as this supplementary word threatens to upset the equilibrium — and where to find the force to say it? Where to find another place for it? — it is not pronounced and the task remains unfinished. One writes only what I have just written, finally that is not written either.'
The Infinite Conversation, Maurice Blanchot, 1993
“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” (Ursula K. Le Guin)