how we read and how we are / by mrm

"You used to read dictionaries like other people read novels. Each entry is a character, you'd say, that might be encountered under another rubric . . . A dictionary resembles the world more than a novel does, because the world is not a coherent sequence of actions but a constellation of things perceived. It is looked at, unrelated things congregate, and geographic proximity gives them meaning. If events follow one another, they are believed to be a story. But in a dictionary, time doesn't exist: ABC is neither more nor less chronological than BCA."

Suicide, by Eduoard Levé, translated from the French by Jan Steyn, excerpted in Harper's, April 2011