I Dreamed Once More of Berma

On the cruise, I was able to take a bite out of Within a Budding Grove, the second of Marcel Proust’s seven-volume novel, Remembrance of Things Past. Those of you who remember my obsession last year with the first volume, Swann’s Way, are by turns cheering and groaning, aware of the lengthy meditations which are sure to follow over the course of the next month as I complete this book.

You may think I jest when I profess adoration for Proust; and, in truth, I do make light of my affection simply because, to many of you, it seems so absurd. But I really do have a fondness for his work, the marvelously complex sentences, the haunting introspection, the profound observations of daily life.

Reading Proust is like running a marathon: it’s a mixture of pleasure and pain. Yes, even for ardent devotees such as myself, Proust’s lengthy sentences and pages-long paragraphs can be, at times, almost impenetrable. Frequently I must pause and reread, then re-reread, and even re-re-reread passages in order to decipher them.

However, as with running a marathon, reading Proust offers fantastic rewards, can provide a rush unavailable in reading smaller, easier works.

My favorite bit from the first hundred pages is as follows:

Young Marcel has grown older, is now a young man (he’s between fourteen and seventeen years old — I can’t tell precisely). He longs to attend the theater, in particular to see a performance by the legendary Berma. At the suggestion of the diplomat Norpois, Marcel’s father agrees, reluctantly, that Marcel may accompany his grandmother to see Berma in a perfromance of Phèdre, one of her most famous roles.

In preparation, Marcel reads Phèdre repeatedly, each time attempting to interpret the role in a different way, impart new nuances and inflections in his mind. He knows that his attempts are juvenile, cannot possibly hope to match the manner in which the incomparable Berma will read the lines on stage.

As the date of the theater trip approaches, Marcel’s excitement turns to apprehension. He begins to fear that there’s no way Berma could possibly meet his expectations. Though he longs to forego the trip, he cannot because it’s something he’s requested for many years.

The theater isn’t what Marcel expected: all the actors move together and interact on one stage instead of reading their lines from separate positions. (Strange naiveté, no? But it’s in keeping with the character.) He’s mesmerized by the supporting actors.

Then Berma takes the stage in the second act. Marcel is disappointed. This is greatness? he wonders. It seems to him that Berma is merely going through the motions. There’s no subtlety to her performance. She brings nothing to the part that his imagination had not already surpassed. Can this be the great actress of whom he has read so much?

After the performance, Marcel overanalyzes the situation (like somebody else you all know). He decides that while he enjoyed the production, it did not meet his expectations, and how could it? Then he hears others, including the ambassador Norpois (whose opinion Marcel holds in high esteem) praise Berma, and Marcel’s own opinion of her performance improves. He reads glowing reviews of the production, and now even his memory of it begins to glow a little.

I’ve related all that (a summary of the first seventy pages, really) just to set up this lengthy excerpt, a passage with which I identify. (I’ve edited this to make it more readable for my audience.):

After M. de Norpois had gone my father cast an eye over the evening paper; I dreamed once more of Berma. The pleasure which I had found in listening to her required to be made complete, all the more because it had fallen far short of what I had promised myself; and so it at once assimilated everything that was capable of giving it nourishment, those merits, for instance, which M. de Norpois had admitted that Berma possessed, and which my mind had absorbed at one draught, like a dry lawn when water is poured on it. Then my father handed me the newspaper, pointing out a paragraph which ran more or less as follows: —

“The performance of Phèdre, given this afternoon before an enthusiastic audience, which included the foremost representatives of society and the arts, as well as the principal critics, was for Mme. Berma, who played the heroine, the occasion of a triumph as brilliant as any that she has known in the course of her phenomenal career. We shall discuss more fully in a later issue this performance, which is indeed and event in the history of the stage; for the present we need only add that the best qualified judges are unanimous in the pronouncement that such an interpretation sheds an entirely new light on the part of Phèdre, which is one of the finest and most studied of Racine’s creations, and that it constitutes the purest and most exalted manifestation of dramatic art which it has been the privilege of our generation to witness.”

Immediately my mind had conceived this new idea of “the purest and most exalted manifestation of dramatic art”, it, the idea, sped to join the imperfect pleasure which I had felt in the theatre, added to it a little of what was lacking, and their combination formed something so exalting that I cried out within myself: “What a great artist!”

It may doubtless be argued that I was not absolutely sincere. But let us bear in mind, rather, the numberless writers who, dissatisfied with the page which they have just written, if they read some eulogy of the genius of Chateaubriand, or evoke the spirit of some great artist whose equal they aspire to be, by humming to themselves, for instance, a phrase of Beethoven, the melancholy of which they compare with what they have been trying to express in prose, are so filled with that idea of genius that they add it to their own productions, when they think of them once again, see them no longer in the light in which at first they appeared, and, hazarding an act of faith in the value of their work, say to themselves: “After all!” without taking into account that, into the total which determines their ultimate satisfaction, they have introduced the memory of marvelous pages of Chaeaubriand which they assimilate into their own, but of which, in cold fact, they are not the authors; let us bear in mind the numberless men who believe in the love of a mistress on evidence only of her betrayals; all those, too, who are sustained by the alternative hopes, either of an incomprehensible survival of death, when they think, inconsolable husbands, of the wives whom they have lost but have not ceased to love, or artists, of the posthumous glory which they may thus enjoy; or else the hope of complete extinction which comforts them when their thoughts turn to the misdeeds that otherwise they must expiate after death; let us bear in mind also the travelers who come home enraptured by the general beauty of a tour of which, from day to day, they have felt nothing but the tedious incidents; and let us then declare whether, in the communal life that is led by our ideas in the enclosure of our minds, there is a single one of those that make us most happy which has not first sought, a very parasite, and won from an alien but neighboring idea the greater part of the strength that it originally lacked.

Wonderful stuff, the very insightful and meditative qualities which make Proust a marathon worth running.

But it gets better.

A propos of nothing — or nearly so — Proust, in the form of his protagonist, Marcel, launches into the following meditation. (Again, edited for mass consumption.):

My mother appeared none too well pleased that my father no longer thought of “the career” for myself. I fancy that, anxious before all things that a definite rule of life should discipline the eccentricity of my nervous system, what she regretted was not so much seeing me abandon diplomacy as the prospect of my devoting myself to literature.

But “Let him alone!” my father protested; “the main thing is that a man should find pleasure in his work. He is no longer a child. He knows pretty well now what he likes, it is not at all probable that he will change, and he is quite capable of deciding for himself what will make him happy in life.”

That evening, as I waited for the time to arrive when, thanks to the freedom of choice which they allowed me, I should or should not begin to be happy in life, my father’s words caused me great uneasiness. At all times his unexpected kindnesses had, when they were manifested, prompted in me so keen a desire to kiss, above where his beard began, his glowing cheeks, that if I did not yield to that desire, it was simply because I was afraid of annoying him.

And on that day, as an author becomes alarmed when he sees the fruits of his own meditation, which do not appear to him to be of great value since he does not separate them from himself, oblige a publisher to choose a kind of paper, to employ a fount of type finer, perhaps, than they deserve, I asked myself whether my desire to write was of sufficient importance to justify my father in dispensing so much generosity. But apart from that, when he spoke of my inclinations as no longer liable to change, he awakened in me two terrible suspicions.

The first was that (at a time when, every day, I regarded myself as standing upon the threshold of a life which was still intact and would not enter upon its course until the following morning) my existence was already begun, and that, furthermore, what was yet to follow would not differ to any extent from what had already elapsed.

The second suspicion, which was nothing more, really, than a variant of the first, was that I was not situated somewhere outside the realm of Time, but was subject to its laws, just like the people in novels who, for that reason, used to plunge me in such depression when I read of their lives, down at Combray, in the fastness of my wicker sentry-box. In theory one is aware that the earth revolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can live undisturbed.

So it is with Time in one’s life. And to make its flight perceptible novelists are obliged, by wildly accelerating the beat of the pendulum, to transport the reader in a couple of minutes over ten, or twenty, or even thirty years. At the top of one page we have left a lover full of hope; at the foot of the next we meet him again, a bowed old man of eighty, painfully dragging himself about the courtyard of an almshouse, scarcely replying to what is said to him, oblivious of the past.

In saying of me, “He is no longer a child,” “His tastes will not change now”, and so forth, my father had suddenly made me apparent to myself in my position in Time, and caused me the same kind of depression as if I had been, not yet the enfeebled old pensioner, but one of those heroes of whom the author, in a tone of indifference which is particularly galling, says to us at the end of a book: “He very seldom comes up now from the country. He has finally decided to end his days there.”


How horrible are those moments in which we realize that we are not exempted from the laws of nature, from the passages of time, those moments in which we find ourselves painfully aware of our own mortality. I pass most of my life blissfully unaware of my impending doom; there are moments, though, when my human nature is brought into focus, and I am made aware of the finite time before me.


On 09 September 2004 (08:02 AM),
Dave said:

Note that at no time does Marcel get himself thrown out of this performance, unlike our current protagonist.

On 09 September 2004 (09:58 AM),
Dana said:

Um. Where’s Ant-man? Someone promised Ant-man

On 09 September 2004 (10:44 AM),
Pam said:

Let me know if you need any help achieving the pain, pleasure and rush of marathon running, too. 🙂

On 09 September 2004 (11:31 AM),
Johnny said:

Henry Pym, the Ant-Man, shrugged his shoulders as Proust turned to contemplate the bizarrely attired superhero, who for the occassion had dressed in his best black and red spandex and had polished his chrome plated helmet. Although rarely at a loss for words, Proust continued to ponder the deeper meaning of the not so subtle interchange between the colors, wondering if the colours were the product of some lengthy mental process that had meandered over the metaphysical landscape or rather the explosive genesis of a tortured soul seeking escape. The gigantic column of ants behind Ant-Man continued to move forward in near silence, marked only by the tiny footfalls of a million ants gathered together as a force of nature, calmly marking each segment of their existence in the metered way that was common to all ants.

Suddenly, Ant-Man lunged forward and, using the trigger on his belt, released the amazing gas which triggered his shrinking. As he travelled across the void between them, Ant-Man shrank to only an inch in height, but retained his full 5’8″ mass, enabling him to deliver an elephantine punch. Proust began to speak, and words in long, complex sentences filled the air between them. Time began to slow as Ant-Man soared across the gap.

In a roaring voice (for a one inch figure), Ant-Man said, “I am brevity, hear me roar.” But the words of Proust were proving too much for him as his arms, legs, eyes and brain felt more and more leaden, burdened by the growing mass of turgid prose that Ant-Man had to wade through to reach the essence of Proust.

Finally, overcome by the sheer volume of consonants, vowels, syllables, dependent clauses and paragraphs, Ant-Man fell, inches short of his goal. The ants, however, comprehending neither French or English and reacting solely to Ant-Man’s last mental command to defeat Proust, swarmed over Proust, carved him into little ant-sized bits and carried him off, leaving only red smears of blood where once had stood a mountain of prose.

On 09 September 2004 (01:18 PM),
Jethro said:

Three cheers for Ant-Man! Hip-Hip-Hurray! Hip-Hip-Hurray! Hip-Hip-Hurray!

Thanks for making the world a better place, Ant-Man!

Books on Tape

I’ve never been much of a listener-to-books, but I could become one.

In college, after I decided it was okay to like Stephen King, I listened to several of his books on tape. My first exposure to “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” was through an audio book. I’ve also listened to some of Garrison Keillor’s books on tape, though this seems more natural.; Keillor’s tales are meant to be heard.

More recently, last summer I listened to two of Patrick O’Brian’s early novels on CD. I enjoyed them immensely. Listening to a book forces me to absorb the material at a slow and measured pace. It forces me to pay attention to detail.

At present, I am reading Dracula on CD, in my car, during my drives to and from work. It’s fun! (It’s a fine thing that I’m listening during the day, too; were I to listen before bed, I might have trouble falling asleep.) Count Dracula reminds me, at least in this performance, of nobody so much as Mr. Joel Miron. So, in a way, every time I hear Dracula torment poor Jonathan Harker, I imagine that it is the evil Joel tormenting me.


Of late, using the public library system more and more because, with the new house, I simply cannot afford further profligate expenditures on luxury items.

Unfortunately, the Clackamas County Library’s books on CD — and their graphic novels — are poorly organized. Each branch has its own method of organization. Some group all books on CD together. Others have them interspersed with the books on tape. Some branches have ten books on CD. Some have hundreds. And there’s no way to make the library’s web site, “Show me all books on CD.” (Or, “Show me all graphic novels.”) This frustrates me.

Somehow, though, I’ll find good audiobooks.

The Lake Oswego branch has all of Shakespeare’s plays on CD. And the county-wide library system has many of the Aubrey-Maturin novels.

Yes, I’ll find plenty to read. Or to hear.


On 08 September 2004 (07:39 AM),
mac said:

At present, I am reading Dracula on CD Now that’s funny!

On 08 September 2004 (07:47 AM),
Dana said:

“100111101001 11010011 00111 101011100011 0001001…”

Dang. Lost my place. I’ll have to start again…

On 08 September 2004 (07:56 AM),
Jeff said:

So, if you listen to a book on tape or CD, it is still considered reading it? Cool. I’ve read Angela’s Ashes – a few years ago when JD was reading it on tape here at work. Woo-hoo!

That’s one whole non-reference type book since college. Book group, here I come! Well, maybe not…

On 08 September 2004 (08:19 AM),
J.D. said:

So, this is a fine question, one that I’m sure has been argued many times before in other places:

Is listening to a book on tape the equivalent of reading a book?

At one time, I would have argued, “No, they are not the same.” Now I would take the opposite stance.

Having read books on tape, I know that I absorb more, comprehend more, am more aware of the richness of the work when I listen to a book than when I physically read it.

This does not mean that I’m going to stop the physical act of reading; I enjoy that too much to ever give it up. However, I am open to listening to books as a supplement to my normal reading regimen (which, at present, consists solely of comic books, anyhow).

One problem, as Mac and Dana have noted, is semantics. If I listen to a book on tape, can I really be said to have “read” it? To be reading it? I don’t know. But for now, I say yes. Unless somebody has a better verb, I’ll stick with “reading”.

Now, if only there were such a thing as “comic books on tape”… 🙂

On 08 September 2004 (08:30 AM),
Dana said:

Um, dude.

The verb you are looking for is LISTENING. You used it yourself in a couple sentences there.

You are listening to a reading of the book. You are not reading the book yourself. The physical act of reading is what we call reading, whereas the physical act of listening is what we call listening.

On 08 September 2004 (08:40 AM),
J.D. said:


I have such a tough time with this distinction because, for me, the important thing is the act of consuming the book. To me, when a book is consumed, it is read, whether that consumption occurs via the eye or the ear.

So, Dana, if you listened to an unabridged Asimov book on tape, and I asked you, “Have you read such-and-such a book?” how would you answer? Would you say, “Yes, I’ve read that book,” or would you say, “No, I’ve not read it, but I’ve listened to it.” Is this an important distinction?

On 08 September 2004 (09:09 AM),
Dana said:

Would you say, “Yes, I’ve read that book,” or would you say, “No, I’ve not read it, but I’ve listened to it.” Is this an important distinction?

I would say, “No, I’ve not read it, but I’ve listened to it.”

Do you say, “I’ve read that play,” or “I’ve seen that play?” It depends on which thing you did.

When you sit down and read a kid a book, would you say the kid has read the book? Or would you say you have read the book to the kid, and the kid has listened to the reading?

I think it is an important distinction. And so do you, really, judging by the fact that you seem to be more aware of the contents of the book when you hear it read, at least in part because of the forced pacing.

Maybe it’s just me. But I think your ‘consuming == reading’ distinction is a unique JD-ism that’s not bourne out in the populace as a whole. I could be wrong.

On 08 September 2004 (09:11 AM),
Denise said:

Hmmm…although I agree that you have consumed the book if you have listened to it…I don’t think you can actually say you have read it. You have listened to it, but you yourself have not read it.

BUT – either way – you have experienced it and I would say, if asked the question above, “Yes, I have read that book.”

Oh – this one is a toughie, no?

On 08 September 2004 (09:54 AM),
Jeff said:

Nick thinks that listening is very similar to reading because you are still able to create your own images inside your head. Whereas watching the movie is different because you are seeing the images that one person created inside their head – and are not able to create your own.

Maybe he will post to clarify this… but I doubt it.

On 08 September 2004 (10:16 AM),
Pam said:

Once I remember Mac and I having a discussion with you about the baseball term “games above .500.” Mac and I argued that the term is mathematically incorrect and should be changed. Your stance was that the term has been defined a certain way, has been used that way throughout history, and is understood by the general public to mean a certain thing, so that the term should not be changed. But now you want to change the definition of reading?? Hasn’t it been defined a certain way and been understood to mean a certain thing, too??

On 08 September 2004 (10:20 AM),
Dana said:


JD has very particular, and somewhat idiosynchratic, ideas about what certain words mean. And he’s not that consistent, sometimes.

This has the potential to shear off into a very different conversation about meaning and relativism…You Have Been Warned! =)

On 08 September 2004 (10:37 AM),
J.D. said:

Edited because I’m not really feeling that cranky or defensive and shouldn’t have come off that way:

Dana: This has the potential to shear off into a very different conversation about meaning and relativism.

You’ll note that today is the anniversary of “Everything Here is True”, by the way. 🙂

I’m usually well aware of the literal definitions of the words I use, of the words’ denotations. But I’m also concerned about connotation. What does a word mean in actual usage?

In this case, however, it’s more a matter of confusion than of anything else. My brain is jumbling various actions, and is having a difficult time sorting how these actions should be labeled.

I can understand that the physical act of listening to a book on CD should be referred to as “listening to a book”, but I cannot force myself to believe that after I have listened to, for example, Dracula on CD I could not be said to have read it. I most certainly have read the book.

And what about the blind? After all, they are not reading; they’re merely feeling the page. It’s not the same thing!

The act of reading, according to the primary definition of the word, is a visual one. But once one has read, felt, or listened to a text, I do not see why one cannot be said to have read it, by a secondary definition.

I guess what I’m seeing here, or wanting here, is evolution of the language. In this case, the verb “to read” already has multiple definitions, and I believe another one (if it doesn’t already exist) should include the act of having listened to an audio book, should be something like “the act of having consumed a piece of text”.

Language is mutable. It evolves.

As is the case when Dana makes idiosynchratic use of the word “shear” when she means “sheer”…


On 08 September 2004 (11:06 AM),
Dana said:

Shear vs. Sheer — typo.

I think there is a very great difference between processing a series of physical symbols (printed or embossed on a page) with either your sense of sight or your sense of touch vs. listening to someone else do that processing and then repeating the words audibly for you to hear.

Listening is passive. Reading (either words or braille) is active.

If you listen to an audio book, I would contend that, yes, you have access to the contents of the book, just as someone who has read the book will. But you have gained that access through another process.

You want to take and push the additional meaning “access to the contents of a book” into the word read, which previously has referred to the action of actually reading words.

Does language evolve? Yes. Does anybody other than you actually use the word read to indicate that they have listened to an audio book? I don’t know. I’ve never heard it used that way, but that means nothing.

When I hear a radio drama, I have not read it. I heard it. I listened to it.

I do not read the NPR news broadcasts, which the reporters are, in fact, reading off of news copy.

When I listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac, I do not say I have read the poem he recites — I have listened to him recite the poem.

When I go to a book reading, I hear the author read passages of a book. I do not then say I have read those passages. I have heard them.

I see the connotation you are trying to extend here. I think it’s arbitrary, and not something that is general usage. As a consequence, I see no good argument for simply arbitrarily declaring that it is in fact the way the word should be used.

But that’s just my opinion.

On 08 September 2004 (11:19 AM),
J.D. said:

Dana, my dictionary has forty-six definitions for the word “read”.

The first is “to look at carefully so as to understand the meaning of (something written, printed, etc.).

The fourth is “to apprehend the meaning (of signs, characters, etc.) otherwise than with the eyes, as by means of the fingers.” (This definition comes dangerously close to admitting “listening to a CD” as the act of reading.)

The twentieth definition is “to hear and understand (a transmitted radio message or the person transmitting it)”. As in “I read you”. By this definition, I think I’m quite justified in saying that any book to which I listen I have also “read”.

Dana: I see the connotation you are trying to extend here. I think it’s arbitrary, and not something that is general usage.

Arbitrary? You think it’s arbitrary?


It’s not arbitrary in any way. In fact, a quick trip to the dictionary shows that I don’t have to argue for connotation, I can argue for denotation.

Also, I think you’re walking a fine line when arguing that all reading is active and all listening is passive. I believe that a person can be active or passive at both, or either, or neither. And it is, in fact, the quality of being an active reader or an active listener that allows one to get more from that which one is reading…

On 08 September 2004 (11:48 AM),
Dana said:

Dana, my dictionary has forty-six definitions for the word “read”.

Good for it!

The twentieth definition is “to hear and understand (a transmitted radio message or the person transmitting it)”. As in “I read you”. By this definition, I think I’m quite justified in saying that any book to which I listen I have also “read”.

Let’s think about the ways read is actually used, shall we?

A computer can, using a variety of peripherals, read a disk, or a CD, or a paper tape, or punch cards. Or an ATM can read a magnetic stripe on a card. In each case, we are talking about a machine performing some sensory process to pick up encoded information.

When we are using a machine with a sensor display, we say we are taking readings — we are using a machine to detect something we normally can’t, or in a way that we normally can’t. We refer to this as a reading the device. We are reading the machine’s display — it’s readout. This has become generalized into a noun, so that instrumentation output is now referred to as ‘readings.’ That’s a noun, though.

When using a radio system, we are faced with a display, much as when we are using sensors. We can say “I’m reading you loud and clear,” and the implication here is that the signal is clear. You do not read the incoming sound signal — you listen to that — but the quality of the signal is described by “reading you clearly” vs. “I’m not reading you, you’re breaking up” — the transmission signal is being picked up clearly and accurately by the machine we’re using.

This usage has bled into a slang usage, “I read you,” meaning, “I understand you.” I have never heard this used except as a specific synonym for understand, and only in the scope of a verbal communication between two people. Usually radio operators.

When we read printed matter — words — we say we are reading. So we can read a sign, read a book, a magazine, a comic book, instructions, ingredients, a recipe, or whatever.

In this meaning, ‘read’ indicates we are using our eyes to actively process encoded symbols — words — into meaning.

When a blind person (or a non-blind person who happens to know braille) reads a braille document, they are using their sense of touch to process encoded symbols — words — into meaning.

When two people talk, they are also processing encoded symbols into meaning. We do not call this reading. When we decode audio signals with our ears, we do not refer to this as reading, we refer to it as listening or hearing.

When we listen to a CD, say a spoken word performance, or a piece of music, we say that the cd-player is reading the CD, using the first sense, above. We do not then say, “I just read Beethoven’s 9th Symphony!”

We certainly could read Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Such a reading would involve using our eyes to process the encoded symbols — the printed notes — of the music. Or we could read a braille encoded version of the music, assuming there is a braille musical notation. When we process such encoded symbols with our ears, however, we call it listening.

When I said “active”, earlier, I see why you say I misspoke. I can concede that.

But look, when you are reading, you are processing symbols into meaning — an active process in your brain — using your eyes or touch. When you are listening — also an active process in your brain — you are processing symbols into meaning with your ears. This is different. Closing our ears is different than closing our eyes. To read a whole book, you have to actively move your eyes around, turn pages, and whatnot. When you listen to something, you sit there and your ears take in the incoming signal. A book does not control the rate of information intake. The speed of an incoming sound signal is dependent on the source of the sound, not on your processing speed.

I really think there are three discrete things we are talking about:

1. The process of reading a book.

2. The process of listening to a recitation of a book.

3. The awareness and knowledge of the contents of a book.

I take ‘read a book’ to mean 1. And it can imply, but does not mean 3. Likewise, ‘hearing a book’ I take to mean sense 2, and can imply, but does not mean sense 3.

You wish to describe all three things with the single word ‘read’. I certainly can’t stop you.
I don’t see that in common usage of the word ‘read’, though. Perhaps that’s just me.

On 08 September 2004 (12:40 PM),
Sparky said:

JD, are you consuming a book when you riffle through the pages to enhance your ability to smell them?

On 08 September 2004 (01:44 PM),
J.D. said:

For what it’s worth, here’s the (smallish) discussion generated when I asked Metafilter about this.

It cracks me up that when I make seemingly innocuous posts, they end up generating heated discussions. Yet, tomorrow, when I finally post my Proust entry (and I will), there’ll be dead silence, despite the fact that there’s much to think about and discuss in it. 🙂

For the record, I don’t care whether one says he’s “read” or “heard” or “audited” and audio book. I just don’t care which word is used. The important thing is that person has “consumed” the book.

On 08 September 2004 (02:13 PM),
Denise said:

So, here’s a hypothetical…what if your dog eats a book? Has he consumed the book?

On 08 September 2004 (02:20 PM),
Dana said:

On another topic entirely, George Lucas is insane.


Other minor updates made to the 1997 special editions include… a compromise to the infamous Star Wars cantina shooting, in which Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Greedo now shoot at each other at the same time, the paper said.

Solo. Shoots. First. Without that, it’s a different movie. Grumble, grumble.

On 08 September 2004 (04:02 PM),
dowingba said:

One time, as I was trying to download tracks to a LOTR soundtrack, I accidentally downloaded a chapter from the book. I must say, it was quite interesting listening to a book, especially one I had already read hundreds of times. But I always thought it would have been better done if it was more like an old time radio show, with actors doing each character’s voice, and a single actor who just narrates. It kinda sounded silly having just one guy put on a myriad of different voices, especially when one of the female characters spoke.

On 08 September 2004 (04:40 PM),
Aimee said:

I must confess that I have never actually read a single book in the Harry Potter series; Joel has narrated all of the books for me, employing a cavalcade of voices. Am I less of a fan for not having read them myself?

Our reading aloud tradition extends far beyond this series, but was born in Joel’s youth as he read books aloud for his blind father, Doug. The first book that seven-year-old Joel read aloud to Doug was The Black Cauldron.

Listening to a storyteller was a time-honored tradition before literacy, and an important skill to keep alive in our current world. Oral storytelling depends as much upon the performance as the writing. As such, storytelling is close kin to theatre; Listening to a book on tape, attending a reader’s theatre, or watching a live performance is a shared experience and a significant one. To me, there is a very important distinction between reading a text with your eyes and hearing a text with your ears. Both, however, easily allow you to “consume” a tasty tale.

On 09 September 2004 (08:10 AM),
tammy said:

Don’t know how I missed this post yesterday but I’m going to add my bit today. I think reading a book or listening to it on tape is the same thing. You’ve read the book. Watching a movie of the book is not the smae thing largely for the reasons Nick said above. But to have to go into detail everytime you want to say you’ve read a book and explain that you really didn’t read it you listened to it, is simply ridiculous in my opinion. As JD, said, you consumed it regardless of how it was consumed.

My daughter is in second grade. They have to read for twenty minutes a day for part of their homework. The school makes no distinction whether those stories are read to her or she reads them herself. It all counts as her reading a book. They have specifically spelled this out in a paper that was sent home.

Seriously, I will continue to say I read a book even though I listened to it on tape.