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Visceral Reading

I had an odd moment a few weeks ago. I was thumbing through an independent comic and I came across a couple of panels that disturbed me deeply. It's too complicated to go into what the comic was about--a short summary is that it was a satire on both the early studio system and it's abuse of actors (many actors were permanently maimed undergoing experimental cosmetic surgery) and the communist witch hunts (a Bugs Bunny type figure is shown embracing Ron and Nancy). I guess that didn't end up being that short. Anyway, the image was so disturbing that I went back a week later to read the whole thing, because it haunted me--I know that sounds contradictory, but I needed to lay it to rest.

But the strange thing is that reading it gave me a strange sensation, almost out of body--I could picture a desert city, with hot Santa Anna winds blowing across 1930's cars. I've gotten this same feeling from books by Tim Powers--but this is because Tim describes LA of the 30's--with the dry and barren landscapes and the disturbing power struggles that went on then. This had no description--it was sort of a documentary style. The interviewee in shadow in a dark studio. So where did the sensation come from? Do other people get these flashes when they read? I've often wondered how other people process what they read, but it's a hard thing to discuss--there doesn't seem to be a common language.


cerebralmum said…
I can remember reading Lorna Doone - I was still in primary school. When I finally finished and put it down, I expected wind and snow and driving rain. It took my brain a while to compute that it was scorching hot, a total fire ban day in a summer of drought.

I also remember, when I was older a friend interrupting my reading while I waited for a train. He asked me if I was on drugs.

Out of body does almost seem like a description of it. But I like the phrase "visceral reading."

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