Reading a “Americanah” on a device in my pocket makes me more and more sure that effective communication has the power to transcend format and that exploration of a multitude of accessible formats with this purpose in mind is worth investing in. Reading “Americanah” over the weekend, I also became aware of the nearly miraculous ability to perceive the interior of someone else’s experiences through literature.
I was not aware of this in such a way when I read voraciously as a girl and a teenager. I was so embedded in the world of books that it was normal for me to constantly be either in life or in books about 65% of the time. I was allowed to spend a lot of time in my imagination so I never really understood how the imagination can sometimes be a luxury until recently. Over time I have come to understand myself not just as a vessel through which dreams, communication. art and expression flow, but as a person in relationship to others in ways that effect change, that provoke thought, that shift, perpetuate, inform and create perception whether I like it or not and in ways I may never be aware of. I think this is why I have always loved reading because for me, it is the way in which I consciously allow my own perceptions and world view to be effected without fear of judgment. Without a fear of judgement there is total attention and only with complete attention can the ability to learn truly exist. When I am genuinely engaged with literature, I feel like I can allow my imagination to co-create my reception and comprehension with complete attentiveness.
To be able to temporarily move from one reality to another by simply reading someone’s words, for me this is a form of dimensional travel. When I’m reading, my mind is open in ways that it is not during day to day interactions, conversations, at work, in commute or even just walking down the street. There is in that openness, the potential for retention in ways that affect my consciousness even at a molecular level and I have always cherished it. When I get to the end of a good book, I feel that I have come out on the other side of an experience that is now somehow an indelible part of me, like when someone introduces you to a musical artist that you come to love. And then years later you can’t even remember the first time you heard the song. All you know if how much you love it, how it makes you feel. Something which at one point in time you had never even known existed is now an intimate part of your life you cannot imagine living without.
When we are engaged with whatever we choose to read, the feeling of connection over time and space, culture, condition, race and gender is like a slowing down of time, a moment where all things fleeting or jumbled fall into place. It is a feeling that stabilizes, re-informs, supports, enlightens and challenges. I don’t believe that the importance of the ability to access the fertility of the mind can be overstated. The tools with which to look critically at that which we consume so often below the line of consciousness is something which great writers like Adichie have a firm grasp on. More on that in my next entry.