According to the stats for Tortoise Loft – The Blog, yesterday was the busiest day ever with 130 views. But not one comment: no opinions, no conversations started, no ‘that reminds me’, no ideas thrown out and picked up on, nothing. A few people do occasionally comment, for which I am grateful, but there’s no to-and-fro, little feedback.

So try this:


The ability to read alters the way we see the world.




4 Responses to “Letters”

  1. Wa-all yes. Why you not be happy with me as translator of book of you? Why exactly is languaging important correctly?
    There’s absolutely nothing original I can offer you in this debate. but maybe you can assess the effect of literacy by deciding not to read today. Just ignore the written word, see the alphabet as happenstance hieroglyphs. I don’t mean pretend not to understand what you read; flick off the literacy switch for a few hours.
    I wonder what would happen if you could somehow rinse the brain of all information derived from the written word? What would be your sense-experience of the world minus a priori footnotes?

  2. suetortoise Says:

    Can you flick that switch? I can’t. Even when I was too ill to cope with reading more than a few words at a time, and that a struggle, it was impossible not to make letters mean things in my head. Perhaps if I was in a place with only alien glyphs I’d have the feeling of illiteracy, but it still wouldn’t get the meaning of English letter-groups out of my brain.

  3. Exactly. Just as a footnote, years ago i really enjoyed an exhibition by Eduardo Paulozzi of objects from The Museum Of Mankind plus objects found or constructed by him, arranged in museum vitrines and very loosely or merely apparently themed.
    No labels because one statistic from The Museum was that visitors spent about 90% of their browsing-time reading the labels and then glanced at the objects for reference. Unlabelled exhibits force you to look at the objects for clues but maybe in that setting you do feel a kind of ‘institutional’ anxiety.

  4. suetortoise Says:

    90%? That seems very high. If you’re attracted by in what you are looking at, then you will at least scan the museum label to find out more. But I want to look at things more than read labels. The Museum of Mankind and the Pitt-Rivers in Oxford are my two favourite museums because the things are fascinating and numerous, and the labels are manageable. The modern trend to fewer and fewer exhibits and more and more ‘information panels’, videos, big graphics, etc, etc, seems to go against the whole reason for a museum – a chance to look at the real thing. (Oh, and the embroidery sampler room at the V&A is another little piece of well-stuffed heaven, although that’s more for its technical interest than for the wow of the massed objects.)

    Without labels? Hmm, I would probably concentrate more on the shapes and colours and textures, but I’d also be trying to reason the things out. Hunting for clues. I can’t just see things as they are, I have to process, translate, connect, pigeonhole, tint and taint with existing knowledge. Sigh!

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