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What Do You Want?

April 9th, 2009 - written by Brian Utley

Tonight I’m on a reading spree, having read about 70 pages, in the last hour, of Gladwell’s Blink. And it’s amazing. The topics and insights are remarkable. But I can’t share them, it’s not something I’m good at. I can’t take a topic or experience and put it to words. I can do that with my own thoughts and ideas, things that originate in my own head. But I can’t do it with books, or say, with movies. I’ll watch a movie and someone will ask me what it is about and I’ll have absolutely no idea what to say. Because I think in pictures, and in emotion. So when someone asks me about a movie like, The Reader, I see a dingy bedroom, a young blonde German boy, I see frustration, I see sex, I see the stubbornness that ruins a woman’s life, and I see a man’s life changed by a few months in his teenage years. I see lots of things, I feel lots of things, but if you were to ask me “What is The Reader about?”, you would get a blank stare and a response of something like, “well, Kate Winslet is in it, and it’s kind of sad, but it’s a great film.” Not exactly a descriptive answer, but really, that’s all you’ll get. Because the side of my brain that processes thoughts with imagery and the side of my brain that processes words don’t work together as well as they do in other people’s brains. But I like to tell myself that this is because each of those sides of my brain are extremely strong-willed and not as willing to share and collaborate with each other as other brains. I don’t see it as a weakness, I see it as a characteristic.

So that leads me to ask, what do I write here? What do you want to read about this resolution? Why do you come to this site? Why are you reading this post? When I read, as counterintuitive as it sounds, I read images. The words are pictures in my head. I don’t read letter by letter, I read pictures of words, and I combine those pictures of words to form pictures of sentences, which shape ideas in my head that I hold in a mental picture frame. Ask me what a book is about, even when the book is words and not images and you’ll get the same answer as you’ll get asking me about a movie. I can tell you what I saw, and I can tell you how I felt, but I can’t necessarily disconnect the books imagery and connect to the books words, and tell you what I read. I might have an anecdote here and there, but you won’t get much from me.

So what can I do for you? This site helps me track what I’m reading, and I’d really like to add something else that would benefit you, but it’s not going to be book reviews, and it’s not going to be in-depth critiques either. So what does that leave me with? Something like what you are currently reading? The psychology of the written word? How Brian Utley processes data written in the English language? Is that something that is beneficial to anyone but myself? And even then, is it beneficial to me at all? Is this post doing anything for anybody?

For certain, it’s getting this idea and these thoughts out of my head, and traditional psychology will tell me that is something worthwhile.

I’m reading Blink, I’ve had a shitty day. I spent a good two hours talking in depth with an agent from the FBI, I was left out in the cold when I should have been a part of a possibly momentous event, I’m listening to a song by The Eels that for some reason has developed meaning to me, and has left me half submerged in extremely heavy introspection. And a combination of these events have brought me here, asking a simple and self-serving question. What do you want? Do you want anything? Are you checking in to see if this resolution will fail? Are you checking in to see if the book I’m reading is interesting? Are you checking in with Brian Utley because you haven’t seen or heard from him in a while and want to know what is going on? Am I egotistical in these possible scenarios? What blogs aren’t ego-driven? But who cares?

There is really only one thing I’m certain of tonight. Tomorrow morning these words will appear in a dear friend’s Google Reader. As to what he thinks while reading, whether it’s imagery or words, I’ll never fully comprehend because the conveying of that information gets lost in the static that appears between thoughts and language.

So I’ll listen to The Eels, get back to my book, wait for the arrival of my son, and break down the events of the day and the reasons for my failures. And learn from it.

What Do You Want?

Book Thoughts

  1. MiPiAi
    April 10th, 2009 at 07:27 | #1

    I like books but I hate book reviews, partly because they usually give too much away. But you said it yourself: “I can’t take a topic or experience and put it to words. I can do that with my own thoughts and ideas, things that originate in my own head.” And you did.

    So after I read this post, I sat there and quietly thought about for about five minutes. And that’s why I’ll be reading you next post.

  2. Ericka
    April 12th, 2009 at 08:35 | #2

    I read because I am intrigued (read:envious) of your quest. I read because I love books and I’m interested in what others find interesting (our genre choices are completely different). I rarely read book reviews, those of the 4 star variety anyway. I like to hear how books make people feel, you give a glimpse of that. A glimpse into how someone felt because of a book is far more fascinating than what literary contribution it is to our society….well, to me anyway. Finally, I DO read to see if you will succeed….maybe in hopes that I can too one year. Happy reading!

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