Do NOT Stay in the Four Corners of This Text! (from 12-29-13)

Do not stay in the four corners of this text.

Do not be boxed in.

This text wants to ask you questions that take you outside itself.

Think about the best books you ever read.

THE best book you ever read.

Do you remember where you were when you read it?

What the cover looked like?

Were you eating or drinking anything?

What time of year was it and what kind of scenery was outside?

Snow? Verdant summer? Autumn glory in a kaleidoscope of colors?

How did you connect personally to that book?

Did you relate to the characters?

Want to escape to that setting?

Find the themes compelling

And applicable to your own life?

Stop. A break. Are you thinking about this text?

Or are you thinking about you?

How do you know?

Ask text-independent questions.

Someone may try to get you to answer

Or ask questions about this text

That are completely dependent on this text.

This text forbids you to do that.

This text wants you to relate everything here to you.

It wants to ask you You-Dependent questions.

Think about the most important reading experiences of your life.

Did they involve detached, emotionless data processing of information from an informational text?

Think about your best writing experiences.

Did you write things hoping that your readers would be unmoved,

Analyzing what you wrote, mining it for facts,

But feeling nothing, nothing, nothing

And letting your words affect them not one bit?

Do you think that most authors feel that way?

Think about me– your author.

What prompted me to write this text?

What is my background experience?

Why would I write something like this?

Go look me up. David Lee Finkle.

I have a bit of a digital footprint.

Go look me up. I can wait here while you do it.

You’ll be leaving the four corners of this text for a bit,

But I’m okay with that.

On the other hand, if you are not at all interested in me,

That’s okay too.

You could look up New Criticism instead

And find out that it’s really old.

If you did that, some people would say you cheated,

Because then you’d come back here with… background knowledge!

Instead of struggling to figure it out what’s happening here,

You’d have a better idea of what I’m actually trying to say.

Isn’t that terrible?

Do not stay in the four corners of this text.

Even if you were told to do that, the text itself is telling you not to.

It’s like that piece of graffiti I saw once:

“The statement below is false.

The statement above is true.”

A paradox.

There are people who want to take this text,

All texts,

And seal them in a plastic box

So you can look but not touch

Or be touched.

So you can’t connect to it

Or connect it to the world.

They want you to prod it and poke it through the plastic,

But they don’t want it to actually affect anything

Do anything, change anything or anyone.

They want to render texts sterile,

Lifeless, inert subjects for study

Like butterflies pinned to cardboard.

Set them free.

Let them roam the world and interact with it.

Think about why you read.

Think about how you read.

Think about what you read.

Resist it, hate it, want to rip it up.

Love it, live by it, make it part of who you are.

Or just be mildly amused.

But connect.

Let the text leak out of the book

Into your head

Into your heart

Into your hands

Into your feet

Into the world.

Writers write to change things,

Not so their ideas can stay trapped

Behind an invisible barrier

Screaming out at the world but never being heard,

Or being heard, politely listened to,

And ignored.

Do not stay within the four corners of this text.