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Active Reading

As we said at the beginning, we will be principally concerned in these pages with the development of skill in reading books; but the rules of reading that, if followed and practiced, develop such skill can be applied also to printed material in general, to any type of reading matter—to newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, articles, tracts, even advertisements.


tract

1专论

Bring your notes with you to the meeting so you can stay on tract if or when emotions get high.

谈话时带上你的发言提纲,这样可确保你在情绪激动时不会离题。

2大片的土地 地带

Vast tracts of warm water are a perfect environment for cyclones.

广袤的暖水地带是产生气旋的完美环境。


Since reading of any sort is an activity, all reading must to some degree be active. Completely passive reading is impossible; we cannot read with our eyes immobilized and our minds asleep. Hence when we contrast active with passive reading, our purpose is, first, to call attention to the fact that reading can be more or less active, and second, to point out that the more active the reading the better. One reader is better than another in proportion as he is capable of a greater range of activity in reading and exerts more effort. He is better if he demands more of himself and of the text before him.


exert

vt. 运用,发挥;施以影响

时 态: exerted, exerting, exerts

exert every ounce of energy

竭尽全力, 全力以赴

exert an influence[pressure] on sb.

对某人 施加影响


Though, strictly speaking, there can be no absolutely passive reading, many people think that, as compared with writing and speaking, which are obviously active undertakings, reading and listening are entirely passive. The writer or speaker must put out some effort, but no work need be done by the reader or listener. Reading and listening are thought of as receiving communication from someone who is actively engaged in giving or sending it. The mistake here is to suppose that receiving communication is like receiving a blow or a legacy or a judgment from the court. On the contrary, the reader or listener is much more like the catcher in a game of baseball.


at one blow

一下子;突然地

blow moulding

吹气成形法,吹塑法

blow away

吹走;驱散

blow down

炸毁;吹倒

blow hole

吹穴;气泡,气孔,(铸件的)砂眼

blow hot and cold

三心二意, 出尔反尔


Catching the ball is just as much an activity as pitching or hitting it. The pitcher or batter is the sender in the sense that his activity initiates the motion of the ball. The catcher or fielder is the receiver in the sense that his activity terminates it. Both are active, though the activities are different. If anything is passive, it is the ball. It is the inert thing that is put in motion or stopped, whereas the players are active, moving to pitch, hit, or catch. The analogy with writing and reading is almost perfect. The thing that is written and read, like the ball, is the passive object common to the two activities that begin and terminate the process.


whereas

Only 2% of Swiss walk to work, whereas 23% of Germans do so.

在瑞士,只有2%的人走路上班,但在德国却有23%的人这样做。


terminate

terminate a contract

终止合约


We can take this analogy a step further. The art of catching is the skill of catching every kind of pitch—fast balls and curves, changeups and knucklers. Similarly, the art of reading is the skill of catching every sort of communication as well as possible.


changeup

投手为使打击手打空而投的缓慢球


knuckler?


knuckle

a knuckle of pork.

一块猪肘子肉。

an apostle of bare-knuckled capitalism.

一个赤裸裸的资本主义的传道者。

an undefeated bare-knuckle champion.

一位不用拳击手套的常胜冠军

the bare-knuckle world of commercial real estate.

残酷的商业房地产界


It is noteworthy that the pitcher and catcher are successful only to the extent that they cooperate. The relation of writer and reader is similar. The writer isn’t trying not to be caught, although it sometimes seems so. Successful communication occurs in any case where what the writer wanted to have received finds its way into the reader’s possession. The writer’s skill and the reader’s skill converge upon a common end.


converge

vi. (线条、运动的物体等)会于一点, 向一点会合

(趋于)相似或相同


Admittedly, writers vary, just as pitchers do. Some writers have excellent “control”; they know exactly what they want to convey, and they convey it precisely and accurately. Other things being equal, they are easier to “catch” than a “wild” writer without “control.”


admittedly

adv. 诚然;确实地, 无可否认地

Admittedly, the Eurocracy's enlightened despotism was better than the other kind.

他承认,欧洲开明的统治者比起其他的好很多。


There is one respect in which the analogy breaks down. The ball is a simple unit. It is either completely caught or not. A piece of writing, however, is a complex object. It can be received more or less completely, all the way from very little of what the writer intended to the whole of it. The amount the reader “catches” will usually depend on the amount of activity he puts into the process, as well as upon the skill with which he executes the different mental acts involved.

What does active reading entail? We will return to this question many times in this book. For the moment, it suffices to say that, given the same thing to read, one person reads it better than another, first, by reading it more actively, and second, by performing each of the acts involved more skillfully. These two things are related. Reading is a complex activity, just as writing is. It consists of a large number of separate acts, all of which must be performed in a good reading. The person who can perform more of them is better able to read.

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