Tackling complex texts

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Swim-Two-Birds's picture
Swim-Two-Birds
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Jan 4 2018 12:20
Tackling complex texts

Has anyone got any tips for reading some of the more impenetrable texts on libcom? For example, some of the heavier council communist, situationist etc. works?

I'm imagining note-taking is a must, but I struggle to even begin to deconstruct certain paragraphs, and by the time I've gotten to grips with one, I've inevitably forgotten everything that's come before it.

Spikymike
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Jan 4 2018 12:52

I'm old fashioned so I have to print off longer texts in sections, read, highlight sentences, look-up words in my dictionary, move on to the next section and then re-read., maybe also see what others have said about the texts looking for more clues.

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Fozzie
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Jan 4 2018 15:38

I remember this as being quite good and am glad it's here on Libcom as my original link is kaput:

“One of the biggest requests made by people is ‘What should I read?’ It may be topical: What should I read to find out about council communism? It may be a question of how best to grasp something over time: What order should I read these things in?

What people frequently fail to ask is ‘How should I read?’ Yet that is the truly important question.”

Chris Wright - On Reading and Not Reading Theoretical Works
https://libcom.org/library/reading-theoretical-works-chris-wright

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
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Jan 4 2018 18:16

Read it together with someone. Also, rereading, several times if needed.

Swim-Two-Birds's picture
Swim-Two-Birds
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Jan 4 2018 23:47
Fozzie wrote:
Chris Wright - On Reading and Not Reading Theoretical Works
https://libcom.org/library/reading-theoretical-works-chris-wright

Ah, that's exactly the kind of thing I was after! Cheers.

There does seem to be an advantage to having a physical copy to annotate and highlight. Saying that, it's possible to do that on a kindle, if a bit cumbersome.

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Sike
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Jan 5 2018 03:47

One thing that helps me to remember what I've read is to read whatever I'm reading out loud to myself when alone. Apparently speaking the words that one is reading helps to stimulate brain processes that aid in long term memory that reading in silence does not. Many years ago I brought this up with a teacher of my acquittance from Norway who was at the time employed as a union staffer in the US and he told me that this is a "little known trick of the teaching trade" that apparently even many teachers are not aware of.

cactus9
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Jan 6 2018 20:17

Yeah, I have a big big problem with this. I bought a few of what I thought might be the classic anarchist texts and they're still sitting on my bookshelf. I haven't managed to read them but I know what works for me personally with difficult texts and that's no distractions and dedicated time to read them. It's difficult because I feel like doing some reading is important for me, I have a lot of opinions but they're pretty basic "folk"-style opinions and I want to learn more. It's just a question of priorities for me, I feel like I'm always busy and I don't have time to dedicate to this as I'd want to.

cactus9
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Jan 6 2018 20:54

I might be a bit behind but is there any mileage in discussion threads for particular articles/ books? Someone particularly interested or knowledgeable could facilitate, and there could be a set date to start, allowing enough time to read. I don't know if there's any enthusiasm for something like that. I know that kind of thing really works for me, as I find it quite motivating.

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jef costello
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Jan 6 2018 22:08

Swim-two birds and Sike, what you have said is absoluelty correct, broadly speaking anything that increases cognitive action when learning increases memory. For example the act of writing down a phone number means you are more likely to remember it.

Your brain automates anything it can, so a lot of reading, especially at speed, is not attentive. One way to slow down is to run your finger along the page. (also very helpful for proofing)

So you should be thinking about summarising and explaining what you are reading.

The article linked to is a pretty good one, it requires an effort to read like that, it isn't the same as breezing through a fun novel.

There have been reading groups on here but they have mostly run out of steam. Personally I leave the reading to the last minute and then get lost and can't participate because I don't know what I am talking about and then drop out. It requires a group of people who are willing to read and discuss and take the time to read, dicuss and explore. It is a pretty big commitment, requiring a particular type of effort and not one people are used to fulfilling, maybe this is why you often get students and teachers in organisations.