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The Museum of Vestigial Desire

Workshop: How To Read?

tags: sequence


  1. Use a separate piece of paper to answer the questions where required.
  2. You have nine hours (three hours/day for three days) to process the whole workshop.
  3. After you know how to read, if you want something to read, you can communicate with us.

When we read, what do we want to read and why do we want to read it? We want to read so that if there is anything offensive to our sensibilities in our environment, we remain aware or it. We want to read because we want to know when we are cursed and we want to know what the curse says. When we devise a strategy for our wider mode of behaviour, we need to know which are the biases and which is the ill-will that is already working against us. So when we are trying to figure out how to read, we are obviously not talking about just reading text. Text is oriented towards being read. The interesting thing to do then is to make text less readable, less flat, less accessible. Writing is about this act of encoding as well as about the act of burying within the text itself, all the tools to decrypt it.

We are talking about reading situations; reading that which has not been rendered in a readable format.


Reading involves the recognition of symbols and the translation of these symbols in a standard way to yield a set of sounds or a meaning. But sometimes things are not as simple as that. The situation is exposed in a way that requires the subject to search for clues, find a pattern, synthesise a translation template, perform a translation and come upon a meaning simultaneously. Learning how to do this, requires a specific effort. Language has limited our ability to read. This workshop module will introduce the frameworks required to be able to read spontaneously.

Once we are able to do that, the curse will become a universal mode of communication again. The format will get its teeth back again. It will even have fangs and so a sting. Wouldn't that be lovely?

For us, a constant source of regret and disappointment is that eventually everything gets blunted and exhausted. All the potency of language is only timely and contextual.

But this workshop will trace a return-path for us.

The workshop will help us read.

Not just read texts to supposedly know their intent. But learn to read the texts that have never been read before.


This is a three day workshop. Participants are required to commit three hours on each day. Within the span of the nine hour workshop, we will be able to meet our objectives.

Day 1: What's your word?

Hour 1: Pick one word that speaks for you, your narrative as well as your sensibilities. Speak this word aloud for one hour and record it. Upload the recording on Soundcloud, send us a link. We will put it all together and share back.

Hour 2: You can only identify strongly and squarely with something accidentally. You can never strategize the script of your own identity. To shuffle it up, which other word could possibly speak for some version of you? Can you imagine at least one other version of your own persona? Maybe, if we are going after versions, the word that you could select could be from a language that is totally foreign to you.

Hour 3: The inherent bias in a word between its possible meaning and non-meaning can be broken. This bias can be broken by not choosing a word on the basis of how it is heard. A certain haste, an urge to gamble can be at play. Think back of everything that you have read. Think of a word that you have no understanding of, and easily misread or misinterpret.

Day 2: Understand friction: protect, encode, sharpen

Hour 4: Friction exists between the transitions between words. This friction is the source of meaning that language projects. Identify this friction and develop it further. We need to be able to calibrate the friction as needed. Write one line of text about who you seem to be on a piece of paper. Mark the points of friction with another color. Upload an image of this sheet of paper on Dropbox, share a link with us.

Hour 5: Friction is a parameter of movement. While you are not moving, this friction needs to be protected so that it does not get exhausted. You can protect the inherent friction in your linguistic constructions, by encoding them. This encoding is done by giving up direct access to everything. A code is evolved that refers to all entities in a surreptitious manner. Machines are made for the decryption of such codes and these machines use the code as their natural language. The objective is to hide the map of triggers, hide the relationship between friction and language. If this relationship is known, we become very simple targets of manipulation. Tell us the story of the yellow sparrow.

Hour 6: How do sharpeners work? Sharpeners shave away a layer of the pencil with a blade and so they sharpen by doing away with the exhausted and dull parts of the shell. We will sharpen your language, why are you here?

Day 3: What do you see? See nothing at all.

Hour 7: Seeing nothing is difficult, but it is the key entry point towards beginning to read. Once nothing is on our visual horizon, our senses are not confounded and our buffer is not trying desperately to catch up. Once we have nothing to see, we are forced to read. All our reading happens in a dark room. Can you transport yourself to a dark room without changing your location at all? And can you tell me that story?

Hour 8: Losing focus of what is already filling our scope of vision is difficult. But that is what we must do. The screen is not going to turn off, in order to be here and also manage to read and process the text at the same time, we must learn to lose focus. The motivation, the channelling of our angst into sequences of production, the measurement of our ambition through the granularity of our actions all need to be forgotten and dismissed. Can you tell us one thing that you have managed to forget?

Hour 9: Refresh your vision. You can only really see anything, if you fully attend to it. To fully commit your attention to something, you must be able to access your attention in some way. If you are already fully invested in the world you are living in, how can you access any of your resources anymore. So, first you have to cultivate a dispassionate engagement with the world. You need to be superficially involved. The hooks that the world extends and wants to sink into you, only need to be able to enter your skin. Outside your own narrative, what comes across as pure noise to you? How can you see something without engaging with it as potentially meaningful content? Describe the experience of reading this text through the language and context of drinking a cup of cold coffee.

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