There’s a small central pit of closely packed cones in the back of our eyes near the center of the retina. It’s called “fovea”, and it’s responsible for the sharp central vision (or the “foveal vision”). When you fixate your gaze on a single point, the thing you see most clearly and sharp is what you see with your foveal vision. Whatever is outside, a bit blurred perhaps, but still visible and somehow readable is called “peripheral vision”.
Both foveal and peripheral visions are essential for many human skills, specially reading.
But you know what? When we read, those visions work together more like dancers in between special movements of the eye, the saccades, to provide us with the wonderful ability to look at symbols printed on a paper or displayed on a screen and convert them into a sound, a taste, a scent, a meaning, a word.
Now, a good way to improve your reading is to be aware of the mechanisms of that dance. When you put your eyes to read and make your visions follow the steps in some sort of choreography, you master reading in a way you can’t even imagine.
Of course, in the beginning, you’re gonna read word by word, and dance step by step. Cautiously, clumsy, trying to follow the rhythm and remember the movements. Maybe you’ll trip and twist your ankle trying to perform a pirouette you’re not used to. That’s not a problem. Keep trying.
With time, you’ll be able to see the magic of that dance naturally, right in front of your eyes (or in the back, in this case) and words will flow in your vision between a pas de deux and a crazily synchronized boleo, all at once.
When you master that dance, you dictate the rhythm, you lead, you use your reading as you please, you dance, at your pace, for whatever song (or the book or text) you want.
■ Let’s play. Pick any word of the page you’re reading from a book right now. Fixate on it, and tell me how many words you can read with your peripheral vision. Write them in the comments, for fun.
I just did that and I’ve fixated my eyes on the word “of” but I could read “the Independent of that morning”… 6 words. Not bad.
↓ first seen on @beardbetweenthelines