Beginning in January 2011, I will take up on old project of mine. In Vancouver I called it Thought on Film. Now here in Toronto, it will be called No Reading After the Internet. This new name is better, and the genius of my dear friend and collaborator Alexander.
These are out-loud reading groups, inspired by Rainer Ganahl’s Reading Seminars and Kristina Lee Podesva’s Colourschool. Texts are made available at the salons, and are then read aloud. Sometimes the reader will stop with the paragraph, other times the text demands the sentence as a unit, and only very rarely will whole pages or sections pass before breaking. But when the break does happen, the idea is to try and make sense. As Alexander puts it, we are suspicious of our own reading abilities. By tracing our steps through a text, the hope is to discover meaningful paths through the realms of language and interpretation.
When possible, the texts of No Reading are connected to exhibitions or screenings, so that the theory/poetry/criticism can be approached through the specific lens of a work. It could be that the artist was inspired by the poetry, is responding to the theory, or that the text itself is a critique of the piece. The work becomes a common point of reference by which to illustrate or challenge the ideas that are being read out loud.
No pre-reading is required and the attendant hopes are twofold: that the salons are more accessible in a practical way, and that it diminishes the idea that you have to do research on the subject before attending. These are direct responses to experiences I have had with reading groups, where I have found it difficult to finish assigned readings on time, and that I have been emasculated by dudes who are already experts in a subject I sincerely want to explore.
And reading out loud, I like to tell myself, gets me and everyone else using our voice, so that when it comes time to discuss and make sense, people are more apt to participate. Additionally, being read aloud to is actually so lovely. Why is this relegated to childhood?
All of this is a preface to say that I have been reconsidering my modes of criticality, here are on the brink of bringing the No Reading series to Toronto. My simple goal is to facilitate (and participate in) a reading of a text that emerges from the particular, unpredictable constellation of people who arrive any one evening. But I think I would like to encourage skepticism and problematize the status quo in more overt ways…