About a week from now the state of Oregon will lift mask mandates. I have been leading a series of zoom discussions about the nature of art for the Osher lifelong learning Institute at the University of Oregon. I’m very curious to see whether or not the Institute fitting out their classrooms for hybrid meetings, both in person and online, because during the pandemic their membership has broadened beyond that limits of our city. We will see how they handle the liberation, as we learn to discuss again in a new world.
In January 2020 I wrote a semi-autobiographical essay about the new kinds of reading skills we need to live in today’s world of media. Old books and texts lived on shelves in stores and libraries waiting to be discovered, with gatekeepers guarding increasingly prestigious collections. Academics and writers learned increasingly sophisticated skills for active reading, note taking, analyzing, negotiating with gatekeepers and adding to those collections. Today new media combine and mutate, escaping any hierarchical overview; they don’t wait patiently on shelves; they come at us from unexpected directions. New reading skills are needed, defensive as well as active, to preserve spaces for reflection and critical listening amid the hailstorm of images, texts, sensations. In this essay I start from my own experience growing into the old world and facing the new, and suggest tactics derived from mindful meditation and computer hacking. The essay is available for download, Learning to Read, Again. It includes images from talks I gave on this topic and ideas from my earlier essay on critical moves from within immersive media.