When newspapers began to be widely circulated and read, in the 1920s, Arthur Ransome lamented in an essay that there was far too much reading going on and at a galloping speed.
For a great many people, reading has passed from being a conscious into being an instinctive activity.
We are reading machines all wound up and going
And master whatever is not worth the knowing.
There was a time when a newspaper was a handwritten letter of gossip which, when came from town, would suffice a countryside for a fortnight.Then it became a printed folio sheet.Today, spread out, it becomes as big as a blanket, and we get new one wice a day.It is only when newspaper is a rarity that it becomes read in full….
Normally, in England, people do not read the whole paper. There is too much of it. Instead they have by practice learnt to look through it in such a way that they can be confident that nothing of interest would have missed their attention…
Once upon a time everybody recognised that reading was a form of frozen sound, and reading was then a form of listening. Today, with an over-developed ocular skill, we see a sentence, even a paragraph, at a glance and hear nothing at all.
So, the lesson? When you are reading, listen. If you are a writer, try to slow down your reader and force him/her to hear your voice. Resort to line breaks, pictures, smileys, wrong-spellings, whatever. Are you listening?