Question from class

So after class I was thinking about a quote from Susan Sontag’s “Write, Read, Rewrite and Repeat” that was brought up on Thursday:

“Here is the great difference between reading and writing. Reading is a vocation, a skill, at which, with practice, you are bound to become more expert. What you accumulate as a writer are mostly uncertainties and anxieties.”

Do any of you agree with the idea of reading as a “vocation” or as something you can become “more expert” at? Do you think that writing could ever be considered a “vocation” (in her sense of the word) as well? I would never think to compare reading to a job (rather I would more likely associate writing with a job, and reading with a pleasure activity), but I was left wondering about the possibility of Sontag’s comparison.

See you all in class!


2 thoughts to “Question from class”

  1. I agree that is seems hard to view reading as a vocation. But a unique way to look at it would be considering actors. In a sense they are “reading” lines. The better they portray the “reading” the more successful they will be. So in this sense, an actor “reads” for his/her vocation.

    But in my more general thinking I think of reading more as something you can become “more expert” at. Writing is most definitely a vocation but I think it can also be categorized as something you become “more expert” at.

    So I guess my answer to your question is that both can be both.

  2. I also think of writing more as a job than reading, mostly because you don’t hear the phrase “I’m a professional reader” from anyone! I feel like she is almost polarizing reading to be something that’s “easy” to do compared to the the act of writing. I think that writing is also something that, with practice, you get better act. Maybe it’s not any easier, but you are able to more cohesively construct a piece of writing in whatever style you have developed. Maybe it is her bias as a writer herself that makes her classify reading as a “vocation.”
    However, I do agree with Sontag’s statement that with practice, you can become better at reading. I just think back to my freshman year at U-M and how slow I was when I had to read for my classes. Now, I have basically double the reading, but I can complete it in the same amount of time. I’m by no means the fastest reader out there, but I’ve learned how to critically read. So, I think that reading is definitely a skill that can be developed. But yes, as you bring up, I am not sure I would ever consider it a vocation.

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