choosing its truths over its defects

Charity in reading involves avoiding quick dismissal and cheap disdain, resisting the ego satisfaction of allowing a text only to confirm one’s prejudices, and seeking the good in a text, choosing its truths over its defects.

From David Smith summarizing Alan Jacobs in Teaching and Christian Practices (a good book to come back to regularly).

aspiring toward a perfect attentiveness

If all great art is symbolic of a kind of moral plenitude, of conflicting attitudes and impulses explored and worked through toward some ideal clarity, the act of reading is itself a model of ideal human relations, aspiring toward a perfect attentiveness in which emotional possession and intellectual comprehension–what experience conditions us to see and what the text insists we see–inform and alter one another. ┬áReading well, in other words, is symbolic loving.

A friend quoted the poet Alan Shapiro as writing this. From his essay “The Dead, Alive, and Busy” (1984) published within In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination: Essays, 1980-1991.

able to read what has been handed down

A written tradition, when deciphered and read, is to such an extent pure mind that it speaks to us as if in the present. That is why the capacity to read, to understand what is written, is a like a secret art, even a magic that losses and binds us. In it time and space seem to be suspended. The man who is able to read what has been handed down in writing testifies to and achieves the sheer presence of the past.

From Discerning the Mystery by Andrew Louth.