Thursday, February 28, 2013

On English and reading

"Why do you want to improve your English?" you ask them, on the first day of your new tenure. The diagnostic icebreaker, cheap but to the point. It helps with trade, Phoenicia's descendants inform you. It's the world's second tongue, say the refugees of Sidon and Tyre. A smiling, bearded Nawaf in the front of the room summarizes. "America bosses the world around in English. We need English, just to tell America to go to hell."
-an anecdote

I can't speak English properly. I'm only decent in reading or writing it, but when speaking there's always the mispronounced words and the native accent making it sound bad - and I speak too fast when tense. When I hear native English speakers, they sound unfamiliar. I find it weird myself that most blog posts here are in English, but all comment replies I write to people I know are still in Ilonggo. Maybe because I think in English, imagining my thoughts as written text on paper. There are even days when I write more than I speak, when I'm busy with a project that has to do with writing. I also take notes too much and think through things by writing it out.

I didn't grow up a reader. I grew up watching Tagalog anime in GMA and ABS-CBN, and Cartoon Network shows. When Harry Potter was all the rage and other classmates stayed up late to read the newest installment, I was made insomniac on pirated-DVD marathons. Then, I picked up The Dark Half by Stephen King at around third year, the first novel I finished. The more paper fiction I finished, the less I watched anime. The last anime I watched was around 5 years ago, they were Speed Grapher and Blade of the Immortal. I don't know a thing about the newer ones, and I prefer reading manga scans on the net.

Right now, I can only finish around 3-5 books a month due to school and the internet. Most of what I read now is non-fiction: textbooks, self-help, even the inspirational and motivational books. My favorite thing about reading fiction is when I'm totally absorbed by a story, there's this zen connection where I feel I'm really in that imaginary world. I find that reading is much more entertaining and immersive for me than watching TV, or anything else really.

But then... I find that my attention span isn't as good as it was like when I was 15. It seems that I can't concentrate on anything for more than ten minutes. I'm trying to get back to the 50-100 pages a day habit, and now I'm getting through The Master and Margarita.
- - - - -
I once saw a comic on the school publication. I know its supposed to be ironic, targeting "pseudo-intellectuals" who engage in the following activities: 1) Drinking coffee, 2) Analysing paintings and art, 3) Reading books in public. And my reaction was, What? Those normal acts are pseudo-intellectual now? Most people drink coffee, thinking about what art may mean is normal, and if I read while waiting because its better than staring off to space... am I trying to show off? No. But, the comic seemed to be intended for those who do those things to show off... but what exactly is so show-offy about actions so normal? I mean, the supposed humor intended by the artist felt lame and unfunny to me, and doesn't make sense.

One really shallow reason why I read is it makes me feel like this guy:
...and when you feel like Kakashi, everything is cool in the world and nothing seems to bother you.

No comments:

Post a Comment