Which may have no use ever, but may, so I am recording it, because what else is a blog for?
This morning my husband and I were discussing reading plays. He is dyslexic, and I have an interest in how he and his wonderful brain approach reading, as it is entirely differently from me. I know his eyes dart around the page and have a tendency to skip ahead without his brain registering it, making it hard for him to back up and find his place.
This seemed to tie into two concepts I have read about recently, one being the use of visual memory in reading, as mentioned by Christian Vandendorpe in his chapter ‘Reading on Screen: The New Media Sphere’ in the A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Vandendorpe is talking about visual memory of loci within a codex book, and how remediating the text to a digital device removes the ability to associate a physical location in the book with a piece of the text, but I wondered if a similar concept of visual memory was at work with my husband’s brain and reading.
I was also reminded of ‘Is There a Text on This Screen? Reading in an Era of Hypertextuality’ by Bertrand Gervais, in the same book, in which Gervais speaks of how there are certain generic markers we perceive in text and that informs our brain on how we approach the words we then interact with. We consume newspaper articles differently than novels, for example.
Which brought me to typography. We do not set large sections of type in all caps because the eye perceives words in all caps as monolithic blocks, whereas words that contain lowercase letters have perceptible shapes, which allow our eyes to discern the letter-forms even without perhaps literally reading every single letter contained therein.
Do the specifics of formatting a play for codex book reading give the left-hand rag a series of anchors for my husband’s visual memory that large blocks of prose text does not? Are dense prose paragraphs the equivalent of all caps to his brain, whereas the jagged indents of a play allow for his mind to recall its spot more readily? It’s just a thought, and I should probably do more reading of Proust and the Squid to find out more about dyslexic brains, but I couldn’t help but draw those comparisons…