you are reading.

Specks of light are being flung out of this computer screen and landing on your cornea. The image of the screen is crossing your pupil, reversed as it crosses the lens and then landing on your sensitive retina. From there, the image is transported to the back of your brain through an astoundingly fast chemical and electric signal.

In your mind, each letter is identified and designated by a sound. As sounds come together, they form words, and you compare those words to the database of words whose meaning you're already familiar with; for instance, fa-mi-li-ar means something you know well.

If you're relatively smart and have experience of reading, your mind will identify the words as a whole before it has to put their parts together. Normally, you should have about 100,000 stored up, not to mention those you vaguely know and those you can figure out from their etymology; for instance, etymology comes from ετύμος, "true" and λόγος, "speech."

The words come together to form sentences, and you analyse their meaning. From there, the sentence is moved to an other area of your brain in order to be stored there temporarily. After all, you never know: if the sentence seems uninteresting to you, as most are, you can easily clean out this temporary buffer.

However, if you deem it worthy of interest, you will open up another spot in your brain and the sentence will be stored there longer. That will allow you to do two things: to use the information in that sentence to solve problems, or you can pass it on to other people who haven't read this node.

If you're very lucky, the words in what you're reading will add up to more than the sum of their parts. Words are tyrants; since we cannot live without them, and since they are forced upon us, they are tools of oppression as much as they are tools of thought. However, sometimes people and sentences can crack gaps into the meaning of words, through which our own interpretation can slither. Such words are always meant as a gift from their author to someone he loves.

I don't know if there is any in this node, but there is many in others. The name of this gift is literature.


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