Over at Ads of the World is a series of ads by Y&R Agency in Bogota, Columbia, for a highlighter. The caption is "Everybody reads the same story differently" and has ramifications way behind a highlighter if you ask me. The whole idea of text and how we read has been a hot topic for some time now, particularly in some of the religious streams I swim in. The ad underscores the old idea that "where you stand determines what you see" essentially the idea that we all see/read through a particular lens beased on a whole host of issues that come together to influence how we read and interpret what we read. I am a big fan of David Shield's book, Reality Hunger, which strings together hundreds of written sources into new permutations in order to highlight the way in which we search, or in his view, hunger for reality. Of that book, Luc Santes wrote,
"But we continue to crave reality, because we live in a time dominated by innumerable forms of extraliterary fiction: politics, advertising, the lives of celebrities, the apparatus surrounding professional sports — you could say without exaggeration that everything on TV is fiction whether it is packaged as such or not. So what constitutes reality, then, as it affects culture? It can be as simple as a glitch, an interruption, a dropped beat, a foreign object that suddenly intrudes. Hence the potency of sampling in popular music, which forces open the space between the vocal and instrumental components. It is also a form of collage, which edits, alters and reapportions cultural commodities according to need or desire. Reality is a landscape that includes unreal features; being true to reality involves a certain amount of wavering between real and unreal. Likewise originality, if there can ever be any such thing, will inevitably entail a quantity of borrowing, conscious and otherwise. The paradoxes pile up as thick as the debris of history — unsurprisingly, since that debris is our reality."
The construction of reality through text and reading is a bit too much to handle for some, particularly the literalists. There was an interesting section in The Guardian recently, some writers were aksed to name words or phrases that they felt had become cliches and lost their meaning. One of them was 'literally' and James Geary had this to say about it,
"One of the great testaments to the power of metaphor, and the malleability of language, is the metaphorical use of the word "literally". My kids do this all the time: There were "literally" a million people there, or I "literally" died I was so scared. When people use literally in this way, they mean it metaphorically, of course. It's a worn-out word, though, because it prevents people from thinking up a fresh metaphor for whatever it is they want to describe. And that's a shame, because the word literal is actually a beautiful and evocative metaphor in itself. It is derived from the Latin verb linire, meaning "to smear", and was transferred to litera (letter) when authors began smearing words on parchment instead of carving them into wood or stone. The roots of linire are also visible in the word "liniment," a salve or ointment. Thus, the literal meaning of "literal" is to smear or spread, a fitting metaphor for the way metaphor oozes over rigid linguistic borders."