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#1
Is consuming art a skill? Can you be good or bad at it? Can you be better at it than someone else? If you know more about music are you better at listening to it? If you've listened to more music are you better at listening to it? If you've listened to a wider variety of music are you better at listening to it?

If we insert other art forms (watching films/plays, looking at paintings, reading books, etc) into those questions do the answers change?
#2
You certainly gain more of an insight into what is artful in a certain medium by studying that medium. And you learn to recognize good artistic decisions vs bad artistic decisions (note: can be opinion-based) on the part of the creator.

For example, film students can appreciate films in a different way than I can (as a non-film student), or they can thoroughly hate a film because it offends their sensibility. lol
#3
I have to agree with crazysam here, I know that it's probably going to piss off a lot of people but I do believe that with greater experience comes greater insight. Whether that makes the experience better or not depends on the song. One thing that comes to mind is that truly complex and musical pieces might not be flashy at all, so they might not impress people who have no experience in music. Likewise, even though a 14 year old doing a sloppy tapping solo and playing the pentatonic scale up and down might impress everyone in the talent show audience, more skilled guitarists would probably go "meh".
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#4
I don't know if i'd necessarily say consuming art is a skill, but i will say that i believe that there are two ways of appreciating art (doesn't just relate to music, but also movies, books, theater etc, like you mentioned).

Firstly we have one of the things we all like to discuss on this forum so much, taste. A big chunk of appreciating art comes down to your taste in that field. I like dark, futuristic dystopian themes within paintings (For example, H.R Geiger), i don't care as much for paintings such as the Mona Lisa.

Which leads me to the second way of appreciating art, it's importance for the medium/craft. The Mona Lisa might not be in my taste, but i can still appreciate the craftmanship that went into it and what Leonardo da Vinci brought to the medium of painting. Without him maybe Geigers art wouldn't exist for me to enjoy, perhaps it would. Either way he was one of the masters of the craft and i can always respect skillful artists, even when they are not within my realms of knowledge.

I am not sure if skill is the word i'd use, i would probably say something like this instead. The more different types of music/movies/books etc you've been exposed to the better you get to know yourself as a consumer of the artform and the people that contributed to that artform. I didn't know i liked music until i was 10 and heard the right music to spark my interest, i didn't know i liked jazz until i heard the right tune to spark my interest, the same process has happened with everything in my life and continues to happen, so i don't think it is really a skill, rather an experience.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

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#5
Quote by Kevätuhri
I have to agree with crazysam here, I know that it's probably going to piss off a lot of people but I do believe that with greater experience comes greater insight. Whether that makes the experience better or not depends on the song. One thing that comes to mind is that truly complex and musical pieces might not be flashy at all, so they might not impress people who have no experience in music. Likewise, even though a 14 year old doing a sloppy tapping solo and playing the pentatonic scale up and down might impress everyone in the talent show audience, more skilled guitarists would probably go "meh".

But does that make you better at listening to music than the talent show audience?
#6
Quote by Sickz

I am not sure if skill is the word i'd use, i would probably say something like this instead. The more different types of music/movies/books etc you've been exposed to the better you get to know yourself as a consumer of the artform and the people that contributed to that artform. I didn't know i liked music until i was 10 and heard the right music to spark my interest, i didn't know i liked jazz until i heard the right tune to spark my interest, the same process has happened with everything in my life and continues to happen, so i don't think it is really a skill, rather an experience.

I like the idea that it's about getting to know yourself and figuring out what your jam is more than it being a skill.

Then again, I can think of a composer whom I went from disliking to absolutely loving because of listening to other composers. So I can't really say I found that I enjoy his music after experiencing it. It was more that I became better at listening to it through other experiences, which obviously speaks to the idea of being skilled at listening. So I really dunno.
#7
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
But does that make you better at listening to music than the talent show audience?
As I said, it gives more insight into the music being played and allows one to appreciate (or not, as it may be) the skill of the musicians playing.
#8
Depends on your definition of "skill".

For this one, yes. "a particular ability."

For this one, not so much. "A skill is the learned ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both."

I lean to the second definition myself.
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#9
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
But does that make you better at listening to music than the talent show audience?


It makes you better at hearing the music. (White Men Can't Jump reference).
I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#10
Quote by Arby911
Depends on your definition of "skill".

For this one, yes. "a particular ability."

For this one, not so much. "A skill is the learned ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both."

I lean to the second definition myself.

I guess I mean it in the sense that it's an ability that you can become better at (and be better than other people at).
#11
Quote by jazz_rock_feel


Then again, I can think of a composer whom I went from disliking to absolutely loving because of listening to other composers. So I can't really say I found that I enjoy his music after experiencing it. It was more that I became better at listening to it through other experiences, which obviously speaks to the idea of being skilled at listening. So I really dunno.



That is true. I think it has a lot to do with developing a taste for certain things. I didn't like Bach's music as first, the music that drew me into classical music was older stuff from the Renaissance era (like Dowland for instance), but my taste for classical music grew as i continued to listen to it. So i agree, some things you can't enjoy directly after experiencing them for the first time, i think that some things you are not "ready for " yet from the perspective of taste.

Sort of like when we grow up, we start reading stories made for kids because we are not ready to appreciate works like George Orwells "1984" yet. Only when we have read a lot of other books and matured more as individuals and as appreciators of that artform we might find that we like certain things. As said, i heard a lot of jazz when i was younger and didn't like it then, because i was not ready for it yet. Then Joe Pass sparked my interest and doors began to open in my mind, soon after that i craved whatever jazz records i could find.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#12
It's not so much skill as openness and identification of ideas, techniques, sounds, messages, references, etc. And then there's understanding consumption and how it differs. Many a time I've been frustrated by a quite open-minded person attempting to listen to chant or noise as they might a pop song, and analyse it as one might a pop song. Or treating works that are made around, say, timbre and texture by criticizing it for having little structure.

I think of it, perhaps, as a non-photographer poo-pooing a photographer's lens for not having a zoom function. There's a reason there, and it's foolish to treat it as inferior or 'lacking' when there's something else to it. there is, however, an issue therein of accessibility, and, sometimes related, endurance. One will not enjoy La Monte Young or Earth if their circle of experience is limited to Fall Out Boy (not that I poopoo FOB, I'm a fan). To show them Vomir without at least discussing the motives behind the works would be at best ignorant, at worst utterly pretentious. That's why terms like 'entry level' exist. To appreciate noise-sounds, for example, one must understand their use and their idiosyncrasies, to develop an appreciation of what makes them special. This won't happen if you're dropped into a recording of an angry Japanese man going absolutely mental with no context or prior experience with such musics. Likewise, dropping someone into Peter Sotos will likely result in people thinking you're a sex-offender, whereas someone aware of transgression and who is able to identify the tropes and ideas, patterns, themes that occur and see the line between obscenity and creativity.

And then there's pure technical theory. Even a hardcore realist can find pleasure in the brushstrokes of a Rothko. but, it is the meaning behind it that is what truly cements those works. If one has no experience or knowledge of the ideas and cultural references an artist makes, how are they to understand it more than making their own analyses based on incomplete information, and enjoying the purely formal qualities the work has?

It's not actually listening or experiencing that is the skill, but the knowledge one possesses which allows them to analyse art in a way where they are able to effectively argue their opinions on a work/artist. When people lack this, their analyses often fall to reason quite quickly (see: "it's just noise", "that's not singing", "it's not music", "it's just random", etc.). For some reason such opposition is usually quite impassioned and filled with fallacies; another reason why people into weird sounds don't usually introduce those with a potential interest to the most abrasive works.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Jun 25, 2015,
#13
God dammit Zach.

I agree with the whole opening doors thing, your taste most certainly expands over time as you learn to identify the things you enjoy and don't enjoy, and refine them.

^Banjocal's post is good, and not just because of the Earth reference.

God dammit Zach.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#14
This is a good honest thread ok?

Banjo, those are exactly the arguments I'd make for it being a skill. Like it's something you learn and become better at over time through experience and education. And someone who's educated in the medium is better at observing it than someone who isn't. There's something elitist in that though, and maybe a bit pretentious. Not that I don't agree, I just don't know.

I also think there's a distinction for me between a storytelling medium and a non-storytelling medium. Like fundamentally (most) film, theatre and literature are about telling stories and I'm not sure you can be better at listening to a story than someone else. But you might be able to be better at listening to music or looking at a painting or photograph.

I don't know why I'm so focused on the idea of being better than someone else. I guess that's probably my real question.
#15
Like I said, anyone can see a painting, it's whether they can read it. The skill is not in the sense, but in our interpretation of it.
#16
Quote by Banjocal
To appreciate noise-sounds, for example, one must understand their use and their idiosyncrasies, to develop an appreciation of what makes them special.



I think this is bull****.

I'll paraphrase John Cage because I relate to this point of view very strongly. "I don't need a sound to be anything more than a sound."

You don't need to understand geology to think the Grand Canyon is beautiful. You don't need to understand music to enjoy listening to it. I love free form, minimalism, concrete, etc. There's nothing I need to understand other than I like to listen to it.
I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#17
Quote by rabbittroopsux
I think this is bull****.

I'll paraphrase John Cage because I relate to this point of view very strongly. "I don't need a sound to be anything more than a sound."

You don't need to understand geology to think the Grand Canyon is beautiful. You don't need to understand music to enjoy listening to it. I love free form, minimalism, concrete, etc. There's nothing I need to understand other than I like to listen to it.
In a music-context, there is a greater appreciation to be had if you actually know what is being referenced. Industrial music didn't come out of nowhere, and Merzbow has definite relations to dadaism. It also comes from Russolo and the futurist movement, being truly industrial.

A noise is more than a noise. It has a context. One need not know the sound source, or even the intentions of the artist, but one will describe it with language, and the more language you have to use, the better you can describe these sounds. The same applies to culture and context.

And I actually addressed this later on in the post where I exemplified Rothko + realism. However, as it is, formalism partially died quite some time ago, and to experience such works without any awareness of the ideas present is to miss out on a lot. One will be able to get a feel by listening to such things in large amounts, but without context and a 'tether' to work from, you are but guessing. You can still be very informed and those guesses may not be incorrect, but you will always be closed to a perspective by virtue of it having not occurred to you. And someone like Cage doesn't need a sound to be anything more than a sound because he is, paradoxically, working with theory and ideas to say that. He's saying that because a key theme in his work is the appreciation of the odd, hidden, and isolated sounds of the world, as well as their organisation and, oppositely, indeterminacy. It is totally different to someone without that backing, as he is making a point in the same way that his performance pieces do.

A final point: the context in which I said this was about experience and accessibility. One may enjoy the sound of a chime, or the purring of a cat, but I'm talking about framing it specifically in an art context, something which /drastically/ changes how it is experienced to most people, myself included. Additionally, performance and musical pieces are framed, and as such have a totally different temporal experience and, thus, the viewer has a different awareness of their respective durations. So while one may tolerate a bit of radio static or roadworks outside, they will likely view that being pumped through their speakers in a different way. Noise is, by definition, unwanted sound.

Mostly me not wording things right, but framing is hella important and we are talking about art being framed, not the ephemeral all-surrounding philosophies of art where a person walks through the world and eternally frames it themselves, as few people do that, and those that do usually started with the above stuff discussed by everyone.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Jun 25, 2015,
#18
Quote by Banjocal
To appreciate noise-sounds, for example, one must understand their use and their idiosyncrasies, to develop an appreciation of what makes them special. This won't happen if you're dropped into a recording of an angry Japanese man going absolutely mental with no context or prior experience with such musics.

Dear f*cking god, man...just no. This...NO!

#19
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Dear f*cking god, man...just no. This...NO!

Mind actually discussing it? Like I said, I didn't word it great, but framing is a big thing and there are few people who really 'get' and enjoy hella abrasive shit and actual noise(unwanted) sounds from the word go in the context of being music in its own right. Always a reference point, and the more ones you have the better the appreciation/understanding. Or, in your experience, do most people really dig harsh noise, minimalism, etc without any past experience of it?
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Last edited by Banjocal at Jun 25, 2015,
#21
Quote by Banjocal

you are but guessing


You should be guessing regardless of your knowledge because our experience is subjective. We relate to art, to everything abstractly. Guessing is inevitable and if you're not guessing you're missing a big part of an experience.

I remember reading a thread here a couple of years ago, as I visit very rarely these days, where someone criticized an artist's work because the artist didn't find the meaning of a piece until after it was created. I wondered how that could be a criticism as I imagine most artists can imagine new ways their works can relate to themselves or the world in some way.


Quote by Banjocal

And someone like Cage doesn't need a sound to be anything more than a sound because he is, paradoxically, working with theory and ideas to say that.


And other listeners just pulled the idea randomly out of their butt instead of personally relating to it? I don't need to take a history lesson to like what I like. My experience and perspective is context enough.

If you think there's some complex theory behind the statement of appreciating sound for just what it is and nothing more, then you are way off in my estimation.
I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#22
Quote by Banjocal
there are few people who really 'get' and enjoy hella abrasive shit and actual noise(unwanted) sounds from the word go in the context of being music in its own right.


From where I sit it's the people who think there's something to get who don't get it.
I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#23
Quote by rabbittroopsux
You should be guessing regardless of your knowledge because our experience is subjective. We relate to art, to everything abstractly. Guessing is inevitable and if you're not guessing you're missing a big part of an experience.

I remember reading a thread here a couple of years ago, as I visit very rarely these days, where someone criticized an artist's work because the artist didn't find the meaning of a piece until after it was created. I wondered how that could be a criticism as I imagine most artists can imagine new ways their works can relate to themselves or the world in some way.
Of course, but that's fogging the boundaries. Discourse and research helps you hone that down more often than not. There's almost always something we aren't aware of that we might resonate with.


I'm not talking about enjoyment, I'm talking about the original question - of consumption. and, as I argued, it's less about consuming effectively so much as understanding and forming arguments about it. So when I said appreciate, I was talking about it as the cultural noise sound, and as knowing where it comes from, why it's used, context, etc. I'm not good with enunciating my thoughts but I've made that quite clear for the last couple of posts. Not appreciation of the formal elements, appreciation of what those formal elements relate to.

RE criticizing artist, I do that a lot with my own work. It's about exploration, finding yourself. Nothing wrong with that. It's very different to what I'm discussing here, and enjoyment doesn't necessarily equate to a larger understanding of message, history, ideas etc.

Quote by rabbittroopsux
From where I sit it's the people who think there's something to get who don't get it.
So was Russolo, Masami Akita etc just working with these sounds for no reason, no context? I respectfully disagree, and they would too. As I have now repeatedly said, this is not pertaining to enjoyment, but the discourse side of things and, as the OP put it, consumption. bc i am specifically talking about framing those generally unwanted sounds in an art context, something which most people say they do not 'get', and understandably so. Even if you do 'get' it (i.e. explore the ideas which might have been part of making the piece), you might not enjoy it. People can pretend to view work in a cultural vacuum if they want but they only fool themselves.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Jun 25, 2015,
#24
I believe there are certain skills that you can use to "consume" art, but the act of "consuming" itself isn't really a skill, or if it is, it's one that everybody has (except maybe blind or deaf people.) Anyone can look at a painting and consume it in a visual sense, but the more skilled you are at painting, the more you will be able to analyze and interpret it. This will effectively change your perception of it. Same with music. Anyone can listen to a piece of music, but those with trained musical skills will be able to perceive things that those without musical skills cannot, such as harmonic motion, development, structure and form, etc.


Not saying that one way of consuming is "better" than any other, but it does change how the art affects you.
Last edited by MeGaDeth2314 at Jun 25, 2015,
#25
Quote by Banjocal

I'm talking about the original question - of consumption. and, as I argued, it's less about consuming effectively so much as understanding and forming arguments about it


I simply disagree. I think the best way to consume a piece of music is as a piece of auditory scenery.


Quote by Banjocal

I was talking about it as the cultural noise sound


First and foremost I think of music as anything that engages the experience of listening that a person designates as music. There's a fundamental way in which all music can be enjoyed. I can point to characteristics that are more present in various genres, and the vibe it creates or role it plays. You can call that understanding. But when actually taking in the music, I think it's best to not think about any of that.


Quote by Banjocal

So was Russolo, Masami Akita etc just working with these sounds for no reason, no context? I respectfully disagree, and they would too. As I have now repeatedly said, this is not pertaining to enjoyment, but the discourse side of things and, as the OP put it, consumption. bc i am specifically talking about framing those generally unwanted sounds in an art context, something which most people say they do not 'get', and understandably so. Even if you do 'get' it, you might not enjoy it.


I don't know where you get that. Composing and listening are different activities. It might not surprise you to know that I play guitar . When I'm playing I'm definitely consciously aware of my reasons.
I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#26
Quote by rabbittroopsux
I simply disagree. I think the best way to consume a piece of music is as a piece of auditory scenery.
I am speaking of the OP's notion of it as a skill. anyone can listen to something bar deafness. Being able to identify and contextualise things is not something quite so innate, and requires experience and knowledge which is drawn upon from many places, but shares history. You needn't have read a library's worth of books on the philosophy of music, but the more you've studied, the wider your experience and the more you can apply to a work

I can point to characteristics that are more present in various genres, and the vibe it creates or role it plays. You can call that understanding.

But when actually taking in the music, I think it's best to not think about any of that.
I would agree with that being understanding. It's part of what I'm talking about, as it transcends simple formal analysis. Noise is however built from noise-sounds. Unwanted sounds. That is, as I said, what I'm discussing. By definition they take on a new form when framed, and because of the way we consume art, people are sometimes... less fond of such works. It's a different sort of experience to enjoying a sound in daily life, and as I said enjoyment is not what I am addressing.


Well, that's to do with approach, and I generally agree, but I can sometimes see what an artist has done and think 'oh, that's clever' or 'that works perfectly', etc whilst being absorbed in a work. Half way through a track by The Rita (a noise guy who likes ballet) I realised they were sampling ballet music and placing it under the noise wall so it briefly pushed through the mix sometimes. It made my enjoyment of it extend tenfold and my knowledge of his interests furthered this. It became the most hyper-focused listening session I've had in quite a while. that is in itself contextualising a work

I don't know where you get that. Composing and listening are different activities.
I get it from the way Russolo, Akita, and co composed and the way they approached the art they consumed. They didn't pretend it came from nowhere, they experienced it and also dissected it If we return to the root point of 'it's not about consuming being a skill, but being able to understand what you consume in some way', then it is a reasonable and documented position. I fear we might go in circles with this, and you don't seem to grasp that I'm addressing the OP's 'is consuming art a skill' question in terms of being able to actually know what's going on, rather than the 'skill' of enjoyment. We're basically discussing different things. and it's 2:30 so I should be in bed rly.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Jun 25, 2015,
#27
I make art and it involves consuming and people tell me that I have skills.
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#28
Yes.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#29
Quote by Banjocal

and you don't seem to grasp that I'm addressing the OP's 'is consuming art a skill' question in terms of being able to actually know what's going on, rather than the 'skill' of enjoyment.


well you didn't originally state it that way. What I originally quoted you saying was, "to appreciate, one must understand...". And I think that is bull****.

I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#30
Which I immediately after addressed as poor wording and clarified that I'd missed key words out etc.

Anyway, have a good night/day
#31
Quote by rabbittroopsux


woah, mega-emoticon combo
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#32
Quote by Banjocal
Which I immediately after addressed as poor wording and clarified that I'd missed key words out etc.)


You seem to think I was arguing with you with each of my posts. I'm not sure why.


Quote by Banjocal
Anyway, have a good night/day


I'm trying.

Sweet dreams.
I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#34
Not really. I would probably listen and enjoy the same music even if I didn't understand anything about it. Of course being interested in music makes me dig deeper, but that's about it.

Whether I'm better at listening to it is irrelevant in the end. The only thing that matters is if I enjoy it or not. I don't think understanding it musically/theoretically/whatever makes any difference in that.

It's more about developing a taste for some things than a 'skill'. Sure, I can appreciate some music I probably wouldn't if I wasn't a musician myself, but I'm not sure if that's skill. It's just the result of being interested on a deeper level.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Jun 26, 2015,
#35
Maybe we just learn what to look for in art, therefore we have a different approach at appreciating it.
And well, knowing what to look at and how to look at it may be as well considered skill.

Of course it's just my opinion!
#36
btw i think it's a skill
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#37
Do you need to know geology to appreciate the Grand Canyon? Nope.

Does knowing geology change your relationship to said canyon? Yep.

Can this new state of changed relationship be trained and developed over time? Yep.

It's a skill.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#38
Quote by Jet Penguin
Do you need to know geology to appreciate the Grand Canyon? Nope.

Does knowing geology change your relationship to said canyon? Yep.

Can this new state of changed relationship be trained and developed over time? Yep.

It's a skill.

pretty much what I would've said, except I would probably be more self-righteous and putin some subtle trolling.

good answer though mate, for real
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#39
Quote by Jet Penguin
Do you need to know geology to appreciate the Grand Canyon? Nope.

Does knowing geology change your relationship to said canyon? Yep.

Can this new state of changed relationship be trained and developed over time? Yep.

It's a skill.


For the record I rocked geology in college.


Though picking up on music theory is much more instinctive than sciences in my opinion, because music theory ideas can be sensed.
I once hit a man in Dearborn. Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on goin. I don't know if he's alive or dead. But I'm sorry. Not a day goes by i don't see his face.
#40
Consuming art is a skill.

It's clearest with reading books. You can read a book but your eyes are really just skimming the words. You aren't paying attention to the story. You haven't grasped who the characters are. You're reading it badly. Or the opposite could be true. You're noticing patterns and recurrences in the text, motivations of the character, etc. You're reading it well.
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