TODAY WE LAMENT THE LOSS OF ONE OF THE GREATEST, MOST CONTRADICTORY READERS OF OUR MODERN AGE. Her thirst for knowledge was unstoppable, her mastery of her day-to-day reading habits was lacking. Her deft ability to glide over the surface of things was rivalled only by her unpredicatble tendency to 'go deep'.
Her earliest memory of reading was her mother reading loads of supercool childrens books. She had a lot of memories of childrens books and felt very nostalgic about them, she thought they shaped her life, not because of the text but mainly because of the pictures. Her parents both studied history so she had been around physical books since childhood. She liked the idea of reading before bed but not the practice of it. Her older brother read a lot more than her. She would read a lot of comics instead. She wouldn’t have said that her parents made a big effort to make her someone that read.
First thing in the morning she used to 'wake up' she'd boot up the various devices and check her emails, Facebook and the messages on her 'hand-held device'. She'd read the "international news" and various articulus (which in those days were known as 'articles') such as AQNB (attractivo quello novello bueno) for short Art-related things. She read everyday even if sometimes it was only Wikipedia pages. She'd also read the author captions on instagram and the (public) comments on videos from youtube. She'd read the guardian newspaper online [this had been an option since 1994]. At the beginning of 2017 she spent alot of time reading about Trump, then sought solace in the Arts & Entertainment sections. She used a website called All Music where she found out about dead jazz players. She checked the BBC and Breatheheavy.com for pop musice and celebrity news.
She used to read things to do with cultural theory and technology, people who she'd seen speak at live-lectures, she would only read the ones she'd admired. She read her friends poetry. She read articles for seminars. She took a lot of inspiration from things that she read but sometimes felt she had enough texts to feed her practice for a long time. She also got input from a lot of other fields. For example music, sports, material practice, workshop practice.
She would read short poetry which for her was not more than four pages, she deemed this a 'digestible' quantity. She read stuff to do with yoga and ayurveda, (indian life/knowledge/sciences and things to do with food in seasons) She read her horoscope on astro.com. She read the general horoscope for all signs. She read emails online. She also read her own writing, and multiple books at the same time: non-fiction, theory books, about life balance, buddhism, spirituality or flow. She tried not to work at home, then the things she read were mostly for leisure. Although actually most of the books fed into her practice again; what interested her in her practice is also what occupied her in life.
She liked Mervin Peak’s Gormenghast Trilogy and supposed they are the equivalent of Game of Thrones today. Then there was Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, but she didn’t understand them, "they were about Russia". She started with fiction and there was a lot of magic realism and stuff at that time, things like Marquez and Kundera. Then she started to read theory and one morning she woke up in a skip.
She didn't think of herself as having a very healthy relationship with reading. She didn't want to read and maybe didn't have the patience. Reading out loud made her self conscious because the threat of stupidity loomed large in educational environments. She made a big mistake once, and wrote a text for someone in a film. The reader was a French person, but she gave her such horrible words to work with, they were very long and unfriendly to the French tongue. So she learnt from that; if you are writing for somebody to read aloud, it really has to have breath. She also had a guilty pleasure for reading 'Mormon Mummy' blogs. She was intriguied by them but she felt very guilty because they were bigots and they depicted a lifestyle she ideologically rejected, or it was not so much the lifestyle maybe, but the mindset behind it.
All in all she really enjoyed language and didn't want to escape it. Despite sometimes confusing communication with language, because it really isnt the same thing, is it? Interviews were her favourite form of acquiring knoweldge, reading interviews of people that knew something. She would look up definitions of different cultural objects that were unfamiliar to her, sometimes it was peer induced. She liked to think of it as a "PSeudo-encyclopediac augmented knowledge". Through her own inputs of existing knowledge and understanding of reading texts, she would develop new ideas that informed her art work.
She interpreted a lot. She wasn't interested in getting the truth from the text. Her focus was what she could get from it for her own research and how it related to her line of thought at the time. There were times when reading was really important as part of her reseach phases. Afterwards she didn't know what to do with the knowledge she acquired. There existed no direct relationship in her practice between research and object. It helped having an incentive to read, perhaps discussion, engaging with ideas for her art work. After graduating, when she wasn't part of an institution, she started reading theory and non fiction for pleasure. This was something new and exciting for the later part of her life.
She used to love biographies because they "inspired and tranquilized" her. She was fascinated by the human "quality" of people. She would seek the human, tangible qualities of big personalities; it brought her closer to them as humans, and not as figures. It created a relationship between her and characters. It's a nice description of intimacy: a group of people silently reading together. When this happened she would nudge her partner and whisper: “This is nice, isn’t it? Just like civilized people." During the summer she read a lot when she worked as a lifeguard. She read to relieve the boredom. She read for the whole year. Mostly art theory books. But at summer's end she didn't really miss it that much. She also liked to read poems, sometimes she'd take a day for herself, but not that often. She used to say that reading is overrated, she thought some people see it as a religion. It was scandalising to say that. She engaged a lot with characters. Fiction afforded her the possibility of entering into a parallel reality. In everyday life she tended to repeat herself. Other people did things differently, and reading fiction gave her access to different approaches to life: allowed her to think about it in a different way, even small things. She used fiction as a tool to reshape and redefine the way she did her own things.
She tried not to think about it, the fact that she wasn't operating in her mother tongue. Sometimes when she had trouble understanding things it was comforting to conclude it was because of the foreign language. It was a challenge and a comfort and if she was concerned about anything it was her casual inability to communicate. She wondered if she had read loads of quality reading would that make her more articualte? She really had a lot of insecurity around words and was genuinely overwhelmed sometimes by the sheer amount of them in life, to have to listen, and read, and talk all the time. She had a very ambiguous relationship with language. She didn't have trouble with language that went into her, the things she read, she only held anxiety about the language that came out of her. She just wasn't focussed enough to get all the information. Had she had the choice of having either the language of a five year old german, or to be able to talk only to animals, it's possible that for the adventure of it, she would have picked only talking to animals. It probably would have been a bit dull though, all about sex, food, and death. Or maybe not, some animals must have organising skills in little animal societies, she thought. There's got to be some form of communication that exceeds sex, food, and death, she thought. But she knew nothing about animals really.
She went through her day, starting by checking emails, Insta', BBC News, Guardian - deeply unsatisfying outlets, because they're not updated as often as she checked them - looking for changes in the headlines. Rather she would read an article in greater depth. She also read breatheheavy.com for pop music and celeb news. She generally checked these three sites together multiple times a day. She often went back to one i.e. she read The Guardian - breatheheavy - back to The Guardian because she forgot she'd already checked it. She couldn't even remember which one she was looking at.
She tended to read a book from start to finish, roughly twice a year. But this was word-count-dependant. She physically owned a lot of (non-fiction) books, yet she'd hardly read any of them. She found it harder to pick up a fiction book because of questionable use-value. Fiction didn't seem "academical or historical" she used to think. Books in general however, were really useful for her work. When she didn't read, it was because she was spending time looking at things... On a "normal day" she checked non-reading articulus more than reading research that might result in work. She research-read maybe a few times a week. This was a Quotidian act for her. The writing that happened in her practice, came from fumbling around w fiction stuff, from places or language in the world. She had no real method, we know she felt she could have developed on but in the end she was more drawn to fumbling around in the dark, and this was often a last minute affair.
She was not really writing but going back, remembering the "text that I got there", copy and paste bits. The sensation of reading for about an hour, getting into the reading process. Neither of the two books had content that she could have actually appropriated. She was interested in the content for sure, appreciating them as objects in this isolated encounter
Predominately negative feeling came from her lack of focus, maybe she just didn't know enough about the world, she felt. But artistically she found ways to relate to language that did not require deep reading. She had a strong desire for the meditative quality of deep reading, but not the reading in itself. There was an anti-intellectual streak in her whereby she felt there existed an intelligence outside of words. She didn't want to be a scholarly person, because it was not necessary to have a deep experience with life. At the same time she hadn't solved her own lifestyle with regard to words. Most people would be surprised, she thought, how little people at her level of education have actually read. She remained interested in developing a position within the discourse that she found stimulating. Were her parents readers? No not at all. But she had been read to as a kid. Read loads herself, too, fiction mostly. When she was around 10. It was a conformist thing to do and by the beginning of her young adulthood she had no genre anymore, no more fantasy.