My wife Cassandra can read in the dark. She’s doing it now, with nothing more than the moon and a skylight. It’s taken me some time to figure out how. I might have come across an inverse to GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) during my learning.
I started out with the idea that she had great eyesight. Then I remembered she has to wear glasses or contacts to navigate the world. I quickly moved on to myself, as we are all wont to do, and thought maybe I was just bad at low-light situations because of my own physiology. Perhaps she is only normal, I thought, and quickly proved myself wrong with Google.
Tonight I found the truth: My wife can read in the dark because her reading style is pure.
I’m sure the dictionary has all kinds of complicated explanations for “pure” that I don’t need or want to get into. My definition of pureness involves something that is unadulterated despite the situation.
Cassandra’s pure reading style is one I’ve frequently called something else: slow.
Again, I have to be self-centered to explain. I consider myself a fast reader. I remember a time in elementary school when I tried to max out the computer program that tested for reading speed. It gave you a passage to read, timed you reading it, then asked you questions about it to test your comprehension. I started out reading the entire thing and ended up getting a faster score (or whatever the metric was) than everyone else. So of course I tried to up the ante and skimmed as much as possible. If memory serves I ended up almost doubling the score, mostly by deduction and reasoning about the correct answer based on very little context from skimming.
Fast forward to today and I still believe in my erstwhile speed. My main data point is the number of books I read in a year. I read 100 books in 2018, which is more than most everyone I have to compare with. I’m sure there are more voracious readers out there. If you know of anyone who reads more I’d love to chat with them.
Back to the matter at hand: Cassandra read 19 books last year. Of course, she probably didn’t spend as much time with books as I did. She still spent a good amount of time with her nose in a book, however.
We’ve discussed it at length and she does in fact read much more slowly than I do. If my memory serves (she’ll tell me if it doesn’t of course) she says the speed is mostly a function of comprehension. Any faster and she won’t pick up the information.
The lightbulb (light, dark, lightbulb…get it? Of course you get it) came when I considered the speed and comprehension in a new light (come on, I had to do it). I “can’t read” in the dark because it’s frustratingly slow for me. I can generally see the words on the page. I generally get frustrated about a page in and try for more light or give up. Cassandra is reading at the same speed regardless of the light source. Cassandra can read in the dark.
Cassandra’s reading is pure because the changing light leads to no adulteration. This pureness appears to me as perfection as she sits on the couch and impossibly reads with only the light from another room, or the moon, or whatever body is emitting light at that particular point in time.
Finally we’re back to pureness in, perfection out. I have only this example so far. I’m going to take this as gospel and work to figure out where it falls down. In the meantime I will continue to read on a backlit Kindle while Cassandra performs her nightly feats of wonder.