Read Kindly, Right?

The best way to read anything is with generosity, charity, awe, affection.

Some pieces of writing make that more difficult than others.

There are indeed times when it might be polemically necessitated that a text not be treated so kindly.

And there are times when, simply because of weakness of character, we cannot read as we ought.

Still, I think it is absolutely true that this is the best way of reading a text, and also that there is no text which cannot be read in this way, if we are willing to invest sufficient effort and cleverness into the attempt.

Perhaps you disagree with me and think there are texts which simply cannot be redeemed from their defects, and I’m okay with that. I’d probably recommend not wasting time on those texts when you think you’ve come across examples of them.

In practice, that’s how I act as well. Some texts just aren’t worth the time, and can be justifiably avoided. However, in principle, I cannot help but affirm that it’s worthwhile to seek to live as if every text conceals unimaginable treasures. Sometimes, in my experience, the most unappealing texts are the very ones that can draw out the most ingenious and insightful interpretations from us.

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