Friday 30 March 2018

Ludic Reading – and Writing

I once had an academic paper rejected because I had used the word "ludic".  The peer reviewer though it was a typo and should have said "lucid". No, actually. I mean "ludic". It literally means "playful". When we use the word in connection with reading, we mean something very specific. If someone is reading "ludically", they no longer see the marks on the paper and they are no longer aware that they are decoding those words. They simply see the story playing out as a film in their head.

I experience something similar when I write. I'm no longer aware that I'm typing the words but I'm just seeing the story unfold in front of me. In real time. It all happens as fast or as slowly as I'm typing. If anything, I get even more absorbed in the stories I write than in the ones I read.

Not everyone has this experience, and those that don't are often very competent readers and highly intelligent. Is it perhaps something genetic? However, my grandmother used to harangue me: "Why have you got that head of yours stuck in a book? You should do something useful with your hands."  I could see her point but reading was then and remains now my default activity. One of the great joys of sitting on the beach in the hot sun is that it gives me an opportunity to read. Holidays mean plenty of time for reading.

I was a high school teacher for 26 years. I encountered very few children who couldn't read but I also met only a few who actually enjoyed reading. Investigation revealed that they didn't get beyond the decoding.  They were still very conscious of the black marks on a white background.

I would imagine that everyone reading this blog is a ludic reader as they are interested in what I write and my observations on the writing process. Many may also be ludic writers.

I often discuss this with my students. They nod wisely. Yes, they are student of English, Drama and Creative Writing and they all read and write ludically.  

"Beware of your peers in Newton," I warn. "They are not all as fortunate as we are. They don't necessarily get those lovely pictures." Yes, that's right: Maths and Science are taught in our Newton building.

This was confirmed again when I shared a table with a scientist at our local village cinema club. This lady had nothing against story for she enjoyed the film. "I don't get what turns you readers on," she said. "All I see are black marks on white paper and holding a book hurts my arm. I have enough reading to do in the day job."

Victor Nell discusses this in detail in his text Lost in a Book; the psychology of reading for pleasure. 

Cornelia Funke gives us a fictional example in her Inkheart series; the protagonist's father is capable of reading characters into and out of books.  

Happy reading and writing – ludically if possible.                                     

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