Monday, March 22, 2010

Admitting the Truth About Reading Comprehension

Yesterday I took a research day after eking out a few poetry critiques. When I had exhausted my research with the materials I had, I contemplated going to the UNCA library to get the books on hold for me. But it was raining. Hard. I made a cup of hot tea and some Asian noodle soup, and watched "Revolutionary Road." For me watching a movie on a Sunday evening is unheard of. I am reaching burnout these days so I needed to recharge.
I then proceeded to read, for the first time ever, Paradise Lost. Well, that just about ended me. I was almost in tears, if not for the beauty of the language, then for its incomprehensibility. As a literature student I can admit I am not as well read as many of my peers. I am a non-traditional student. Meaning I dropped out of high school 15 years ago at the age of 15 before I was forced to read many of what my 20 something peers were forced to read.
However, I get really good grades, and I care about literature. Yet for the life of me...the long sentences and the technical skill of Paradise Lost detracted from the action. What the hell is going on? Once I actually looked up a synopsis online (I admit this only with great shame), I was still losing myself in the language. As a poet I just felt that sick jealousy one feels from time to time when reading something finely wrought. I only read the first book, and I am hoping something inside of my brain will crack open as I continue, like with algebra, and suddenly I'll be able to comprehend the text. Then I'll be able to shed tears of joy that I am not a complete moron. Perhaps the point is to draw the reader into Pandemonium literally? Word Pandemonium.
At any rate, here is my cold hard truth: literature can be really challenging. I am coming out of the closet and admitting this fact. Maybe I am just a hack, but I'd like to think I am someone who is confident enough in their own intelligence to admit that some reading is just hard on some of us. I spent hours reading 20 pages. I think I will try to speak up in my Renaissance lit class today and admit before 20 some odd other students that I had no clue what was going on until I looked it up. Perhaps they will be brave enough to admit it too. Maybe they will judge me; maybe you are judging me now. Either way this confession feels like a relief.

1 comment:

  1. Word Pandemonium, i like that. fortunately with my ADHD i don't have to worry too much about getting lost in the depths, well... unless it's a particularly uninteresting book to read.