Friday, July 28, 2017

Old School Fun

Afternoons with a recent visitor reminded me of an archaic medium of entertainment: reading aloud.  Now limited to daycare and children's library events, reading aloud used to be a principal way for a family to spend time after the evening meal. Charles Dickens' compositions were marketed as serial matter, like television episodes.

A nineteenth century parlor had a central table with a kerosene lamp. The family would gather around with reading material. The table sported the family bible and a photo album of portraits. Presumably, when someone started a story, it would be convenient to bring up the image of the person involved.

A good friend used to entertain us at the new year by reading a particularly apt story-the old term "story book" comes to mind as I remember. Verbalizing the printed or written word was actively discouraged during the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics phase of business efficiency. President Kennedy was renowned for his ability to process documents, and Wood had been his instructor.

Reading to others is a good way to accustom one's voice to effective language. Speaking is a physical activity, and the conscious use of words is a work-out as surely as any visit to the gym. When television began to dominate living rooms, there was serious concern that the hypnotic medium would impair social communication.

Surf "elocution" for the details. Technology now makes it trivial to read into a recording device and then critique one's delivery. Recording engineer Jack Endino points out that he has never played music without recording it so he can believe in the quality of the work he produced.

Sharing a table supports spontaneously sharing the choice portions of one's reading, an elegant way to parcel out the best in cognition -30-

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