Reading Through Your Ears
Reading is very important. Wisdom and knowledge comes from life experience while information gathering comes from reading. People who are “well read” are generally more interesting to talk to and have a much broader range of depth than those who never read hardly anything. Many people won’t even read this blog post let alone a magazine article let alone a fluffy fun book let alone a book of knowledge. Thus Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States and the comedy Idiocracy has become a documentary. Which is understandable since we’re so programmed to move a mile a minute and not ever slow down. Reading takes time and requires one to slow down. In order to be a good writer, you must read a ton more than you write. I’m constantly baffled how unwell read many “filmmakers” are and a huge part of being a filmmaker instead of just a person with a camera is writing compelling fleshed out characters of depth. Hence, so much of the problems with indie filmmaking is a lack of good writing.
Technology has made it so we get information a mile a minute. Sadly most of it’s crap because people seem to want to play Farmville on Facebook rather than read something juicy and yummy for their mind. The best information one can consume on a page or screen comes from books of knowledge. Usually old books or else books which retell old themes.
For example, “The Art of War”. A not easy book to read but something that requires one to spend time with it over and over again over long periods of time. Much like university study, it can take a long time to sit down with The Art of War and really get information out of it. And that requires not only that slowing down, but also a focused mental concentration.
As someone who is mildly dyslexic, this is an even greater struggle. The McDonalds for the mind B-level accurate Wikipedia definition of dyslexia is “difficulty in learning to read or interpret words”. Which sure as shit was true here in this brain’s real estate. In the mind control conform boot camp of public and private school I remember trying to read and having so much problem not remembering what I had just gone over two lines before. This was mainly in reading non-fiction and also meant being lost in place and time within reading fiction. However, it wasn’t so much the information in the text but more the process of extracting it off the page and into memory that was the difficult part with a gear lodged in the mental cogs. However, being read that same text out loud was a different story. Hence books on tape saved me in the 80’s and 90's.
Reading involves all your time. Listening does not. When you listen you are in your own world and can often times DO other things. I always have ear buds in my ears whenever I’m by myself in my spare time being a non-creeper street photographer. Either at home or on the move, or even getting various autopilot works done at the keyboard. If I’m alone and without headphones in, I feel weird like walking the dog through a park partially naked not wearing pants. The time is so valuable to be in-taking yummy information and life is too short to spend all your time listening to someone else’s crap they would be all to happy to spoon feed to you over some ghastly live broadcast full of deplorable corporate commercials. I’m allowed to say that being someone who has occasionally directed commercials and has worked on and off in the commercial industry.
Audio books and podcasts are quite ubiquitous these days. However many old texts that are packed with excellence have not been transcribed to audio book. The modern version of books on tape is the spoken word version of text on the page. Either read by a human and translated digitally into an audio file, just like a book on tape. This is a technique called text to speech. A secret weapon of excellence. Older versions of the Amazon Kindle allowed most if not all books you purchased on Kindel to also be transcribed to you as an audio book. An outstanding feature they very sneakily and slyly removed in later versions because of conflicts with publishing companies over copyright of audio book vs regular book. Who would have thought those running an industry would act like profit based capitalist dicks? The best solution I have found to mimic this is text to speech. There are pieces of software which allow you to copy text and have it read out to you, often but not always by a robotic Stephen Hawking like voice. For numerous years I would highlight text and copy it into a reader and push play. YUGE.
These days I will give credit to Apple and mention that the latest versions of Mac OS have an incredible feature where you can simply highlight any text, be it the full pros on an entire novel or a single article, then right click on the highlights text and say “Add to iTunes as spoken track”. After a short bit of processing… BOOM! You’ve got an audio file that’s essentially an audiobook. Created quickly from ANY text you can copy from. Alchemical mind gold! A life-changing process for the autodidact we will all one day come to be.
Being a couple years into listening to self-created audio book files, I’ve started to incorporate a time-saving technique of listening to them at faster speed. A feature which YouTube as added to their videos as well mind you.
Music requires being listened to at proper speed but a human being’s voice does not. In fact, most people’s voices and speech patterns have caused them to deliver oral information quite inefficiently and work better sped up a bit. Rather than spending 3 full hours listening to that latest epic podcast at speed, try it at a 1.5x speed or even a 2x speed. You’ll get just as much out of it in a much more efficient time frame. This process will allow your yummy intel sponging to increase daily. It also works well on mediocre films. Such as kind of boring documentaries or Michael Bay action films where the dialogue just doesn’t carry the visuals. Like all muscles, mental processes require exercise and building up the ability to listen quicker will rapidly move you to become more Jedi and less Muggle in no time.