I looked up in the dictionary, and found a lot of definition that defines the term “read”. Then also, different scholars have different definitions, interpretations, or semantics of the term or word “read”. In general, the ability to read, is the ability to understand and receive a message transmitted from a written text or script. But if reading is to be perceived as an action performed by human senses, do animals read too? I believe so. Even plants too.
My point here is not trying to redefine the word “read” as what as it already has by human intelligence. However, I’m trying to create an understanding for myself on how this act of reading works with the senses given to us and how it reacts with nature.
If reading is an action determined only by the eyes, I think it’s not a comprehensive sensing system to understand and interact with nature holistically. While the eye captures millions combinations if colours diffracted through light, the balance of light and shadow seems to be the factors that define a certain comprehension of understanding “the sight of identity”. Our visions are always changing in forms, shapes, colours, lightings, shadows, compositions, behaviours, movements, as they should, naturally. Now sound, is another thing. We capture vibrations transmitted into various forms which we try to identify and understand its source. So when we say, “it sounds pleasant”, or “it’s noisy”, or “that’s an airplane just flew by”, “there are some birds whistling”; we are hearing sounds with our sensing instrument, the ears. Then actually, we are reading sounds. Now the world of smell, behaves similarly. “A nice fragrant”, “a pungent smell”, “smell like fresh cookies”, “it’s a fishy smell”; are indications that we have understood a certain identity of smell through the act if smelling with our nose. Then, we are reading smells. Likewise tasting, our tongue will capture things that defines characters such as salty, sweet, sour, bitter, creamy, tangy and so forth. So we are reading tastes. Then our touch, will discover things like temperatures, textures, conditions and much more. There, we are reading conditions. So all these, we see, hear, smell, taste and touch, when all combined, it becomes a complete system of sensing mechanism for a human to understand, before they start to interact or communicate. All these characters, conditions or behaviors of things around us, possess energy wavelengths or frequencies radiating in its own world or dimensions only then to be captured by our senses. Once our senses are able to capture, then the transmission will deem successful. So where does “reading” actually happens?
Different creatures read differently. Their mechanisms of reading which is their form of behaviour, are all in their own different world, different dimensions, designed to be the way they live and their purpose in this whole universe of life. Bats being blind use their ears as a form of sonar to detect and understand the environment. If they can maneuver in the air or in the dark at such swift speeds, this means that their ears are sophisticated instruments that can read and reflect distances, obstacles, air or wind conditions, as well as languages from other bats. Snakes or similar reptiles probably see things by detecting body heat. Such are conditions which requires them for hunting, and their tongues seem to be a form of smelling apparatus to read the conditions of the environment. Then, their body is designed to slither through any surface or texture. Then flies, bees and other insects, fishes and marine animals, mammals, reptiles and micro-organisms, all have their own set of senses that defines their system of behaviour designed for their own needs and living conditions. Their senses reads conditions. As we notice, plants will usually grow towards the presence of light. This is because of their ability to detect the energy source needed, thence they will grow towards the direction of light. That is when we observe how certain plants grow, creeping plants, climbing plants, tall growing plants, they live in their own community where they have to fight among one another for food, which sun, water and soil nutrients. Animals read the weather conditions and atmospheric changes. They hunt, they mate, they breed, they hibernate, they build things; and they watch over their communities and territories. Likewise for plants, their change in colours, blossoming of flowers, bearing of fruits, keeping quiet and dry, where different species behaves differently in different seasons, in different conditions, different atmospheres and geographical areas.
Now I observed that our eyes read visions, our ears read sounds, our nose read smells, our tongue reads tastes or chemical values, our skin reads the atmospherical conditions and any combination of these will create reading more effective and accurate. Then, different species will read conditions differently depending on the sensing system that has been build for. So as I’m trying to understand “read”, I’m not restricting to an action defined through human behaviours and intelligence, but expanding this notion of “read” through behaviours of nature. Then where does reading actually occurs?
Reading occurs in the mind. It is the work of the mind. It is an action performed by the brain. Our senses captures characters, conditions and behaviours of things around us, and transmit to the brain for us to read. The ability of the mind to read the information captured will determine our ability to understand. Once our mind have understood, it will determine the actions that we have to encounter. Either to keep still and observe further, or to let it be, or to react accordingly. So do animals too. But of course, the “reading” world of flora and fauna is a totally different complex dimension to be understood by us. We have limits of understanding to define it with our intelligence. As close as we tried, we can only feel to relate and compose it into words of poetry and wisdom, only to be understood metaphysically. Of course, this can be only accepted among us humans.
As I try to understand the term “read” through much simpler instances for a person that is not-so-scientific and not-so-intelligent like me, I try to understand the act of reading transmitted through various combinations of senses to the brain. I see reading as various forms of act. To listen to a conversation, is to read the words transmitted through the spoken language. To read text, is to read a system of forms or figurative characters created or drawn into a written script. Additionally, to capture behaviours of things is also to read conditions. Then, to observe is to read how things work, behave, grow and live. To explore, to study, to learn, are means to read information, to capture, then calculated or processed for necessary actions or purposes. To read is also to follow patterns, arrangements and compositions, so as to read paths and orders. Reading is also to extract, to absorb, to register, to receive forms of exposures. In all, to read is to receive information captured by the senses as forms of messages. Thence simply, to read is to observe, to learn, to understand life. To learn and to understand the whole system of creations in this universe. In such, with a comprehensive sensing system, to be able to read, is to be able to live life to its purposes.
Then there, the Holy Quran says:
“Read! In the name of your Lord who creates.
He created man from a clot of blood.
Recite! Your Lord is the most Honorable One.
Who, by the pen, taught the human being.
He taught the human being what it knew not.”
: Al-Quran Al-Kareem/Juz 30/Surah 96, Al-A’laq/Verses 1-5.
So in this context, what are we all reading, or have been reading actually?
Messages. Regardless whatever the form is, be it conditions, characters, nature, behaviours, exposures, information, forms, light, transmissions, signals, frequencies, codes, languages, all are by themselves, are forms of messages. In any sense whereby the human senses are able to function, this means that certain form of message is able to be detected or identified. This is where the eye reads the clear sky as blue, the ear reads the cat when it meowed, the nose reads the rose when it blooms, the tongue reads the candy when it tastes the sweetness, and the skin reads the sun rays as it feels its warmth. Regardless whether we are able to comprehend these messages, our senses will be deemed functional as long as it can read and detect them. Then, it is the duty of the mind to analyse it and decipher it. In any moment, whereby our senses are unable to detect, therefore a form of malfunction has occurred. Animals will die when they fail to hunt for food. Plants will not grow when it fails to detect sunlight. Therefore humans will not understand when they fail to read. If humans fail to understand, the term “knowledge” becomes redundant. To this extent, the “identity of messages” is synonymous to “state of existence”. Whereby “message” is a proof of “existence”.
So to read is an act of the mind. Then to read is to be understood with the heart. Feelings are sensations developed where messages instill forms of affections in us. Thence to be able to identify messages, is to be able to read. To be able to read, by this context itself is to be able to identify that we exist. Thence if the whole creations in this universe are messages to us, then we are the messages ourselves. And we are the messengers to ourselves. Then, what are we?
Enjoy reading. Keep reading. Read to read more.