We Do Not Know How To Read

From In Search of the Miraculous

“A great deal can be found by reading. For instance, take yourself: you might already know a great deal if you knew how to read. I mean that, if you understood everything you have read in your life, you would already know what you are looking for now. If you understood everything you have written in your own book, what is it called?”—he made something altogether impossible out of the words “Tertium Organum”—”I should come and bow down to you and beg you to teach me. But you do not understand either what you read or what you write. You do not even understand what the word ‘understand’ means. Yet understanding is essential, and reading can be useful only if you understand what you read. But, of course, no book can give real preparation. So it is impossible to say which is better. What a man knows well” (he emphasized the word “well”)—”that is his preparation. If a man knows how to make coffee well or how to make boots well, then it is already possible to talk to him. The trouble is that nobody knows anything well. Everything is known just anyhow, superficially.”

We do not know how to read, at least not how to do so well. We will have to learn. To read The Tales requires skill and we must acquire that skill, or cast the book aside.

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