delany/reading

“KLS: What you’re saying suggests that, in much the same way as ‘writing,’ for Derrida, has come to mean something more complicated and broader than sitting down to scrawl a pro forma note to the landlord accompanying the rent check, so ‘reading’ for you has become a more complicated and broader process than running an eye over the list of contents on the back of the cereal box while waiting for the morning coffee to drip through.

SRD:Yes – or rather: for me, reading has expanded to include all we do in such a situation, from taking in the fact that it’s a cereal box at all and not a novel by Coover or Perec; that it’s breakfast time; that we pay a certain kind of attention to what’s written on that cereal box and not another kind; the ways we might put that information to use, in terms of diet or medical situations; how we remember those contents for so long and not longer – indeed, the set of material forces that constitutes, finally, ‘the contents listed on the back of the box’ as we read them.”

(K. Leslie Steiner, “An Interview with Samuel Delany”, pp. 98–99, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Fall 1996.)

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