Brainy Eyes

Manguel - Reading Shadows

In “Reading Shadows,” the first chapter of Manguel’s A History of Reading, the author explores the history of brain and eye science, from the 5th century BC and Empedocles to Dr. Merlin C. Wittrock in the 1980s.  While these sciences attempt to objectify and materialize what happens when read, Manguel concludes that “we continue to read without a satisfactory definition of what it is we are doing” (39).  Based upon my research into the metaphors we read by, I’d say that Manguel is right to focus on cognition and optics, but reading is a more full-bodied experience that has to take into account more than the brain and eyes–including the heart, lungs, mouth, and hands; the ways we think and talk about reading depends upon metaphors for how we move in the world.