Some thoughts on why I am “weird”

Over the years, many individuals (most of whom have no direct contact with one another) have stated their view that I am “weird”.  Since the individuals in question are (often) not actively involved with one another, and given the fact that I can detect no commonality among them which would otherwise explain this, I have no option other than to admit that they are correct.  I am “weird”.

Adjective
weird ‎(comparative weirder, superlative weirdest)

Connected with fate or destiny; able to influence fate.
Of or pertaining to witches or witchcraft; supernatural; unearthly; suggestive of witches, witchcraft, or unearthliness; wild; uncanny.
Having supernatural or preternatural power.
Having an unusually strange character or behaviour.There are lots of weird people in this place.
Deviating from the normal; bizarre.
(archaic) Of or pertaining to the Fates.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/weird

One of my (many) “weird” attributes is undoubtedly the fact that I learned to read in a (somewhat) anomalous fashion:

  1. I essentially “taught myself” to read
  2. I “skipped over” most of the conventional “developmental milestones” expected when children learn to read
  3. I already exhibited “college-level” reading comprehension by the time I entered first grade

I have never been able to comprehend why my reading-style is anomalous.

I see no  fundamental difference between monosyllabic and polysyllabic words (other than the fact that “polysyllabic” words have  more than one syllable.  Thus, I have never (to my knowledge) had to resort to “sounding out” words in the attempt to extract meaning from them.

The fundamental organizing principle of (English) writing is:

LETTER -> WORD -> SENTENCE -> PARAGRAPH -> TEXT

I am pretty sure that my approach to reading is at least vaguely similar to “phonics” — or at least more like “phonics” than so-called “whole word” approaches (which rely almost exclusively on rote memorization of words in isolation (IE: with no regard to internal or external context).

I also find the notion that monosyllabic words are “simpler” is basically something of an indictment of the “person” making the claim: quite frankly, those who favor monosyllables are (implicitly) admitting the fact that they are borderline-illiterates, incapable of anything beyond the equivalent of those idiotic “Dick and Jane” readers:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_and_Jane

It is also symptomatic of the (relentless) “dumbing down” of — everything, among various segments of the populace:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumbing_down

(Note: there is a fundamental difference between “dumbing down”, and the “Spiral” method of presentation:   the “spiral method” begins with that which is genuinely fundamental, operating from at least the implicit premise that the details can be “filled in” as needed.  “Dumbed down” content starts — and ends — with idiocy for the sake of idiocy.)

Another “Weird” thing about me is the fact that I am incapable of understanding the (putative) dichotomy between so-called “reading for pleasure” and reading “for information”.

Quite frankly, even those who claim to be reading “for pleasure” (say: romance novels) are doing so as a means to access some sort of “information” (even if it happens to be merely a fictional story of some sort).   Nobody has ever been able to convince me that they engage in the activity of reading “for its own sake”.  Otherwise, the mere activity of attempting to parse random strings of words would be interchangeable with whatever they happen to be reading at the time.

IF that is the case, then those who claim to read “for its own sake” could save themselves a significant amount of time, money and effort by simply following this link.

Fundamentally, there are two aspects to any given text: structure and content.

“Structure” subsumes all of those aspects of a given text which pertain to “how” something is presented — grammar, word-choice, literary “style”, etc.

“Content” pertains to “what” is being presented — non-fiction information of some sort, a fictional plot involving “characters”, etc.

At least some levels of “structure” are comparatively easy to generate computationally (which is why the above-linked “random text generator” manages to produce something which at least superficially resembles ‘grammatical” sentences, on occasion.)

The fundamental attribute of such “generated” text, however, is a (comparative) lack of content.   Any meaningful text “points to” something external to itself.

Technical manuals (for example) “point to” specific physical devices, and/or the general principles of how those devices are used.  (VCR manuals, a book on “basic hand tools and how they are used”, etc.)

Creative fiction “points to” a sequence of events involving “characters”, etc.

Absent its “content”, “mere” text is meaningless “Lorem ipsum”:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorem_ipsum

At any rate, I am “weird”, in that I genuinely enjoy reading — IF the “content” to which the particular text “points” is interesting or relevant in some way.

True story:

I detested English class, because unlike any of the other students/victims with whom I was surrounded, I was what is euphemistically described as a “self-motivated reader”.  I therefore detested the notion of coercing students into reading specific authors, merely because those in “authority” presumed those authors to be “Great”.

The bad thing about English class is: their insistence on multiple “drafts” of the same report.

I detest that approach:  “outlines” or bullet-point lists strike me as infinitely more sensible.  Moreover, the fact that I was (typically) required to present the report to my fellow students (most of whom were bored out of their minds), was another definite disincentive.

Most people hate reading because what is euphemistically refereed to as “public” school reduces the activity NOT merely to a chore (which would be bad enough), but to a chore coerced via the threat of punishment (detention, etc.)

Given the fact that 95% of the students already hate reading (because they are only semi-literate — monosyllabic — at best), and….well, no wonder “bookworm” is a pejorative insult to many people.

Typically, my approach to such presentations was:

  1. Outline/bullet-point skeleton
  2. Actual writing.

Multiple “drafts” didn’t make any sense to me, given the fact that I would actively “test out” various phrases/word-choices etc. “inside my head” before writing them down.

I could not get the barely-literate drone of a “teacher” to understand this fact.  Thus, I tended to (eventually) resort to the following “gimmick”:

  1. Bullet-point outline
  2. Text
  3. A second (intentionally flawed) re-write of the text
  4. A third (worse) re-write of the text

My “teachers” were typically stupid enough to misunderstand this in terms of their preconceptions about what a “first draft” and “revision” should be.  The important fact is: I never bothered to disabuse them of their pet delusions.

They wouldn’t have believed me anyway.

They also wouldn’t have believed me if I had told them that I had been collecting Readers’s Digest condensed books since the age of ten (with the definite goal of having a “complete” set.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reader’s_Digest_Condensed_Books

 

 

 

 

 

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