On reading

I wonder if it's possible to read by waiting for those moments when we recognize ourselves. What, if art is the act of holding up a mirror to nature, then reading might be the act of holding up a mirror - imperfect, clouded, distorted - to our face. And that shock of recognition, what Barthes might have called the punctum, pricks us. And in that moment of drawing back (in the way, if pricked by a pin, we start, pull our hand back), what is changed? Do we hold fast to how we had seen ourselves before that mirror, or does that mirrored image become, in some strange way, a new way of seeing? I've been reading Pensky's book on Benjamin and thinking about the change in Pamuk once he read Benjamin. And I wonder if there was a moment in Pamuk's reading of Benjamin when he paused, finger on the page, and looked out the window, renewed his commitment to this world of things.


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