Friday, September 1, 2017

Advice from an old man.

Some time ago a friend of mine commented to me that one of the most influential things I had ever voiced (for this friend anyway) was that I often re-read many books and/or essays and/or articles. Especially works that I found to be meaningful and/or important....and....that each time I re-read them I got something different from them because I was different each time I came back to them.

One part of what I said that was important for this friend was that they had sort of felt like re-reading something was somehow a sign of failure or some other negative thing about themselves. saying what I did gave them permission to revisit various writings without that sense of failure.

I thought of this because I ran across an essay this morning and in it was this passage:

“For example, reading and experience are usually “compiled” at the time they happen, using the state of your brain at that time. The same book would get compiled differently at different points in your life. Which means it is very much worth reading important books multiple times. I always used to feel some misgivings about rereading books. I unconsciously lumped reading together with work like carpentry, where having to do something again is a sign you did it wrong the first time. Whereas now the phrase “already read” seems almost ill-formed.”

I'm sharing this because it occurred to me that many folks might not realize that there is much to be gained from re-reading various writings and that re-reading is not some sign of "failure" or some such negativity.

Good thinking, important thinking, stimulating thinking (conveyed by the written word or via some other media) is almost always worth re-visiting...even multiple times.

I also re-watch movies I find meaningful (or enjoyable), same thing is true for lectures or other video clips I find online. I get different things from them each time I revisit them.

No one ever told me to re-read things (that I can remember), I just sort of figured it out on my own. According to the essay linked above, Seneca was saying something about the value of re-reading stuff several thousand years ago.

Maybe you hadn't realized this for yourself. If not, now you know.  

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