We Reduce

Excerpt from What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

We reduce. 

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Writers reduce when we write, and readers reduce when they read. The brain itself is built to reduce, replace, emblemize...Verisimilitude is not only a false idol, but also an unattainable goal. So we reduce. And it is not without reverence that we reduce. This is how we apprehend our world. This is what humans do. 

Picturing stories is making reductions. Through reductions, we create meaning. 

These reductions are the world as we see it – they are what we see when we read, and they are what we see when we read the world. 

They are what reading looks like (if it looks like anything at all). 


See also:

Mendelsund, P. (2014). What we see when we read: A phenomenology ; with illustrations. New York: Vintage Books. (Indie Bound, library)

Alter, A. (2014, July 28). The creative art of selling a book by its cover. The New York Times. (link)

"The Jacket Designer's Challenge: To Capture A Book By Its Cover," Fresh Air, October 16, 2014