Source (15% down the page): 'Serious reading takes a hit...', by Michael S. Rosenwald, April 6, 2014

Word lovers and scientists have called for a “slow reading” movement, taking a branding cue from the “slow food” movement. They are battling not just cursory sentence galloping but the constant social network and e-mail temptations that lurk on our gadgets — the bings and dings that interrupt “Call me Ishmael.

I recollect that Call me Ishmael.” is the first line of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, which I've yet to read. I interpret the last sentence to mean that modern IT, especially audible alerts and warnings (the bings and dings) interferes with reading. Yet why did this author cite this quote? What are the significance and import? I sense some deeper implications that I missed. Or is the author simply implying that modern IT precludes a reader from reading even the second sentence of a literary classic?


Try to read Moby Dick, and you will find out that it's not a single-gulp affair. You have to read it slowly, there are lots of deviations, philosophical musings, references to history, to other literary works etc.

"Moby Dick" calls for slow reading. It's best read when you're unplugged from the "bings and dings", or else you're running the risk of never finishing it.

The author uses the quote from "Moby Dick" as a stand-in for "a literary work that requires prolonged attention", as compared to web-based articles, tweets and Facebook posts.

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I doubt the author meant anything quite as precise as the meaning you are looking for. It seems to me he/she only intended to say that the classics require a certain amount of attention and concentration to read, and it is difficult to give them that with all of the distractions we face. "Call Me Ishmael" was likely chosen simply because it is a line most people who have gone through high school/college would recognize.

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