Reading is Not a Card Game

We're reading, right? I mean, reading aloud, in a circle. Each person reads a page or paragraph - about 20-30 words - and then hands off to the next reader. Unlike the picture above, we share copies of whatever we're reading. But you get the idea.

We're reading, and the reading moves in a clockwise direction. Each reader hands the reading off to the person on the left, just like a card game.

Then, with the next book, I notice we've somehow switched directions. Now, each person is handing off to the reader on the right, and we're moving in a counter-clockwise direction.

Because I'm a white Anglo-Saxon protestant male in the middle years of life, this gives me the willies. When we start the third book, I aggressively move the reading back into a clockwise direction.

This is wrong. Absolutely.


Because Western print material does not move in a clockwise direction. It moves counter-clockwise, left to right.

Picture this: Two people of the four or six readers sit together sharing a copy of The Beach. The person on the left reads the page on the left, say, page number 4. The person on the right reads the page on the right, page number five. You see? Already we're moving counter-clockwise.

It's sensible. It feels right because it follows the physical form of the book. It makes reading easier.

Try it yourself.

So, why do we deal cards in a clockwise direction? I made a stab at finding out, but without much luck. I read in an unsourced web-document (the text of which also shows up on wikipedia - don't know which came first) that Swiss and East-European games often move counter-clockwise, though Russia shares North-Western Europe's clockwise tradition. Nobody is sure where card games themselves came from, though Egypt is often cited. The "clockwise" of clocks may have to do with the older "sunwise" of sun dials and the relative movement of of the sun through the skies of the northern hemisphere. A right-handed bias has also been cited, but I don't quite see how that's relevant.

Anyway... I would have learned more and posted more about how facilitators need to think about things as seemingly trivial as which direction group reading moves...

... but I got caught up with the history of card design and the expression "one-eyed jacks", one of which was "the Dane", a.k.a. Holger Danske. The Dane was the sworn enemy of, and later soldiered with, Charlemagne. Indeed, his sword was said to be of the same steel as Durandal.

Ah! Durandal!

And if you don't know why that's distracting, you've never played Marathon 2: Durandal, the only first-person shooter game where you progress faster if you know your Latin.

Frog-blast the vent core, baby....

P.s. For all you hardcore gamers, Durandal is said to be preserved high up in the stone walls of Rocamadour, France.

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