~through~ on a bicycle

Last week in class, I brought in a drawing of a bicycle as a symbol of my experience in reading David Herd’s Through. (I thought about bringing in a bicycle but I don’t have one, and also that seems like a drag.)

The bicycle seems like an apt symbol for me as, evidenced by the title, movement is vital to Herd’s book. Within Through, Herd moves through a lot of things: time, space, borders, so on and so forth. He does so at varying speeds, oftentimes referencing walking. For me, though, the experience of reading Through felt more like riding a bike; moving at such a speed that the images and letters you are passing are, at times, recognizable, and at other times, totally foreign. At a walking speed, everything is readable, and at a driving speed (car, train, bus, whatever) things are rarely ever readable. Through, for me, felt like the middle-ground. This isn’t to say that I didn’t understand half of the book. I think more than that, it is to say that half of the book wasn’t written for me. That same half of the book may or may not have been written for you. Herd, in my estimation, provides so much content and so many nouns, proper and otherwise, that it becomes inevitable that the reader will grasp onto some, but not all, of what he is saying; I would reckon, too, that Herd doesn’t want us to grasp onto everything. He renders just enough of his text inaccessible that we, as readers, are able to begin to understand the feeling of inaccessibility in being an immigrant or refugee, for whom language (in addition to things like borders and countries and jobs) is rendered inaccessible, fleeting, appearing to move faster than they are.

2 Replies to “~through~ on a bicycle”

  1. Natalie,

    1) Your drawing was INCREDIBLE, thank you for bringing another one of your many talents to Wednesday nights.
    2) This reading of Through is very sophisticated. I know you talked about this concept in class, but seeing your thoughts written out in this blog post is even more compelling and satisfying to read. Specifically, my favorite part of this writing is “moving at such a speed that the images and letters you are passing are, at times, recognizable, and at other times, totally foreign” — this really hits the nail on the head.

    Thank you for sharing,
    Julia xoxo

  2. Natalie,

    To echo Julia, thank you for sharing your drawing with us! I really like your point about half of “Through” not being written for you, as well as Herd rendering just enough of his text inaccessible. I think that also speaks to his point on language shifting without most people being aware of the shift. Perhaps it’s almost necessary that in recapturing the language, it must become a somewhat inaccessible dialect for those who aren’t aware of the language shifting, at least for a period of time.

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