understand reading


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It is finished! Finally. I have this time Adorno's Minima Moralia read to the bitter end. And I was also rewarded for it, because in this edition I have the editor has added texts that Theodor W. Adorno had removed from his manuscript while he was still alive. However, since he never distanced himself from the content contained therein, the editor believes that he can then add it as an attachment at the end.

I've long been convinced that a good book should be read at least three times, and if possible in different life cycles. And so this time I was not only able to read the book to the end, but also to snatch one or the other piece of wisdom from it, which I probably didn't understand when I was younger. In addition, some passages even made me smile, which would have shaken me a good 30 years ago and maybe did. I have already used some quotes from the book for my own purposes; the idea behind it was to do a little publicity for the book.

Now, however, the difficult part of the reading begins, because I have added comments and deletions to a number of passages in the book, which I now want to get bogged down in part for myself. The advantage of this is that I can be more selective than when I was young. Getting bogged down will help me understand this book a little better and also make it easier for me to refer to it again if necessary. But I'm pretty sure of one thing, I won't read this book a third time. Nevertheless, I think that this book should be required reading and should have replaced many a school novel for a long time - the difficulty is that the book may be a bit overwhelming for most people.

But you don't get much further if you've already done the thousandth time Effi Briest illuminated in all facets. You could also enter something newer territory. Adorno's reflections on our time are particularly valuable today, especially for all those who want to understand the end of democracy at a time when ours is more than endangered! — But we prefer to argue about whether one is still allowed to say mother or write the word Negro, which doesn't really give a good picture of our own capacity for democracy.

We prefer to rewrite old children's books and thus document that we are no longer able to classify what has been written in the time and context or even to understand what the authors wanted to tell us or even had to say. Worse still, we abuse authors who, although hardly anyone has read them themselves, continue to radiate authority to completely inexperienced people for reasons I can't understand. Moltke the Elder is one such case. Worse, when even our scientists page-long Socrates quote.

In order to understand reading properly, we must first understand writing better. Theodor W. Adorno has in the Minima Moralia a very pleasing approach, namely: "This is what the loose and non-binding nature of the form wants to express, as does the renunciation of an explicit theoretical context."

Another extreme are probably the poems and epics, where the authors sit for hours, maybe even days, over every comma, only to remove it again at the end. Gerd M. Hofmann recently stated: "When I was in high school, when I had to interpret poems, I asked myself why people wrote such texts. I haven't found the answer until now..."

I think that this form of writing, by its precision alone, is the best possible way for an author to be able to put his thoughts into words. And even here, each reader is given enough leeway for their own interpretation — misunderstandings can never be completely eliminated.

Fewer and fewer people are willing to practice this high art of writing, especially when it takes on epic traits, because it takes a lot of time to make such an effort.

We were probably spared even most of the books. I, too, prefer to just write in front of me and I'm satisfied if my elaborated work corresponds to 80 percent of what was originally intended; I don't spend any more time tweaking the remaining 20 percent.

That's why I appreciate it very much when others make the effort to create actual writing highlights. One such is the "Song of Myself". Walt Whitman wrote. In order to better understand this poem, it is advisable not only to read it once in its entirety, but also to compare the poem in its first version from 1855 with its last version from 1892. Both end with the following words.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Some readers will now ask themselves what this has to do with the minima moralia. No less than this with the Magna Moralia of Aristotle, by the way one of the students of Plato and probably next to Plato, who is a student Socrates was one of the main sources of everything we talk about today Socrates mean to know.

Like writing, understanding reading is a task that is usually underestimated. Especially as a reading mentor in a primary school and at meseno as well as a lecturer at a university, I am amazed at how few students today still know about our language, the actual "operating system" of our thinking.

I'm more amazed at what many of today's readers understand from what I've just read. And I'm not even talking about the various possible interpretations. If free writing and free reading only lead to incomprehension and misunderstandings, one could think about whether writing itself should be more formalized again - it doesn't necessarily have to be rhymes. But neither are writing and speaking bans. One could certainly agree on a uniform grammar and spelling.

In any case, we have to make sure that in the end the artificial intelligence doesn't just write, read, understand and think, and that we are kept in cages with the last primates quite logically.

“The mischief happens through the theme probandum: one makes use of the dialectic instead of losing oneself in it. Then the supremely dialectical thought returns to the pre-dialectical stage: the serene statement that there are two sides to every thing.”


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