“Here’s what is necessary: one blow with a club, one scar; one slap to the face, a handful of blood. Your reading of what other people write should be like this. Don’t be lax!” — Zhu Xi
Zhu Xi has been, perhaps, the most influential commentator on the Confucian classics in history. If you’ve ever been told that Mencius said, “Human nature is originally good,” you’ve been told wrong: Zhu Xi said that. That was his interpretation of what Mencius meant when he said, originally, “Human nature is good”.
I happen to agree with Zhu Xi in this interpretation of Mencius: human nature has the potential to be good, but it takes training to make it so.
The same goes for reading. We all have the potential to be good readers, but it takes training to get there.
Every blogger knows that when people read things online, they don’t read at all: they skim (at best). Often, people will just read the title, get pissed off, and then explosively splatter their opinion in a comments thread. This is not what Zhu Xi was after!
Zhu Xi wanted us to read carefully, as he did, so carefully it is painful, resulting in blood spilling and slaps to the face. This level of focus and attention to detail is the antithesis of where our society has gotten itself.
Now go read something heavy,