what did we learn from betty’s trip to the museum?
the artworks and books betty encountered represented what might be characterized as different degrees of “seeing” and “reading” which can be listed as follows:
a - that which can not not be seen - nester sakato’s pictures - although they might not be very interesting, the simple colors immediately impress on the spectator’s eyes, so long as they are not completely blind. a colorblind person might not see the same colors as others, but will still see a solid shade.
b - that which can be seen - john 53’s pictures - the simple childlike drawings register , even if the intent of the artist - are the figures cats, dogs, children? - can not be divined.
c - that which can be seen, but not in detail - c c cuthbert flashing video covering wall - the pictures move too quickly for the human eye to register in detail or sequence , although the eyes of other creatures might.
d - that which can be seen, but is not - m d foster pictures of oysters and clams. they could be examined in detail, but the repetitious details would not be retained.
now we come to that which can or can not be read. the key is language, and not language as a concept but particular language which the particular observer can or can not read.
e- that which can not not be read - a a adams slogans on wall. as betty can read english and the slogans are short, it is almost impossible for her brain to not register the offensive (to her) slogans, much as she might like it not to. if the slogans were longer, something like “learn to respect men as god commanded, you stupid feminist slut whore” she might have been able to keep from fully registering them. nine words is considered to be the upper limit of words which can be grasped “at a glance” - the “seven plus or minus two” theory. if the slogans were as short, but in a language betty could not read, the offensiveness would not have registered.
f - that which is assumed to be language, but can not be read - the slogans in various languages, in the exhibit by daphne edwards-soraya. these might (or might not) be offensive to persons understanding the language. betty can only take it on faith that they have meaning to anybody.
g - that which is known to be language, but can not be read - the copy of death in venice/der tod in venedig.
h - that which is recognized as probably being or “looking like” writing, but can not be read - b b bashevski’s stories.
i - that which can be read - novel #1. the book was boring but betty might have been able to read it if were some sort of school assignment, or on a desert island.
j - that which can be looked at, and its concept “grasped”, but not actually read - novel #2. novel #2 is a single word, repeated a million times. no one could actually “read” it - they might run their eyes over it with a gun at their head, but could not “read “ it in any real sense.
k - that which can be read, but only with a supreme effort of will - novel # 3. at 1500 pages, it might be “read” under extreme duress, but it would probably be impossible for anyone to actually absorb or retain any meaning.
l - that which is recognized as “writing” - as letters and numbers - but can not be read . novel #4 - typewriter monkey novel. can absolutely not be “read” in any sense, by any human.
m - that in which there is nothing to read - blank book - novel #5
some other gradations besides these might be suggested. we hope you found this at least a little bit informative or interesting!