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Apprehensible Writing

asomeshwar's picture

After our (two) discussions in class on apprehensible readings vs. accessible readings, and why all readings aren't created to be apprehensible to all, I thought of a couple points after.

1) All writing may not be apprehensible to everyone because not all writing is equal- some may be intended for popular consumption, some for novices, and some for those with for furthering expert knowledge. Writing may also have varying purposes to inform, announce, educate, make aware, debate or make an argument. 
2) Writing is sometimes like a conversation. If you have no context for it or what happened before it and walk into the middle of a conversation you may not fully comprehend the significance of a new turn or action. If you suddenly pick up a newspaper in another country it can feel that way as well. You can read the words and not make sense of it. 
3) Access has to do with physical access but also with the preparation and intellectual tools to comprehend. It is not necessary that all writing has to be made accessible to all but rather that incredibly significant and influential writing could also be made apprehensible to ordinary people. 
4) Exclusion can happen even when writing is accessible. Magazines that write only about the experiences about white middle class women in urban area for instance may be easy to read but do not represent the experiences of a large number of people who do not identify with those experiences. Hence the value of Toni Morrison's work. Because she writes of experiences unfamiliar to some readers, her writing may be not apprehensible to them.



Anne Dalke's picture

your posting made me think of Kenneth Burke's description of
...the "unending conversation" that is going on at the point in history when we are born. Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. ("
The Philosophy of Literary Form")