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How to Grasp the Meaning of Printed PageL Determining the Meaning of the Author.(2)


As a rule, there's always a core of thought or idea to every printed page.

And to understand that is the reader's first assignment unavoidably.

To accomplish this sacrosanct end, the reader must follow a particular order or techniques.


From the beginning, he must study carefully the selection to find its central idea.

Like, why did the author write the poem or novel or play or article?

What was he trying to achieve?

What particular insight(s) is he trying to convey?

What pleasure did he want you to perceive?

In no particular order, here're five suggested ways for breaking down, for instance, a poem or any selection to maximally get the meanings warehoused in it.


1. Find How The Author Develop His Ideas Step-By-Step From The Start To Finish.

It's incumbent on you the reader to diligently study his work, word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, stanza by stanza.

To see how the author grows or amplifies his ideas and thoughts through his choice of words and the likes for herein lays the true meaning of his work.

It is most unlikely that a poet will plunge straight into the theme of his work without introduction.

Check out the introductory passage for clues into the idea he wishes to share.

He must prepare your mind with a prelude that is short and arresting.

Similarly, the writer of article uses the technique of topic sentence, transitional words or phrases, illustrations and examples to drive home his points for or against the standing argumentative proposition.

2. Look Up The Unfamiliar Words In The Dictionary.

It is a must and not maybe that you'll encounter unfamiliar words as you read or try to interpret works from different authors and different genres.

To be perfectly clear with their meanings it's highly recommended you use the dictionary for it offers dependable solutions in diverse ways.

It tells you the reader what class of words used belong to, their oral and syllabic structures, spellings, and definition, etymology and usage examples.

It helps to bring the meanings of text sharply into focus by showing the fine lines of meanings a word has.

Every word we know has denoted specific and somewhat restricted meanings.

For instance, the word house denotes a building; but, for most of us how much more meaning is conveyed by the word home.

The exact meaning of a word is what it denotes and what it left unsaid it connotes.

3. Study The Figures Of Speech; The Words And Phrases That Are Used Not In Their Literary Sense, But in Less Obvious And Symbolic Ways.

Authors and poets especially have unlimited liberty with how they express themselves.

It is much for this reason that readers must be familiar or alert to figures of speech or any such devices and how they are used to heighten meanings in the printed page.

For instance, when the Yorubas say that "may you not step on the eyes of the earth" they're in a less obvious way referring to the terrestrial powers which must not be offended for such carries weighty consequences.

4. Find The Meaning Of All Allusions; That's Words And Phrases Which Refer To Historical Or Legendary Events and Persons.

Most works of literature abound with addresses to historical or legendary events and characters for emphasize and to drive home more pungently the meaning of their narrative.

It might be because the writer wishes to pay homage or for the infamy such event or character represents.

Allusions are references which before then may mean very little to you but the moment you as a reader checks them up for their true meanings immediately comes to the fore.

For example, if you find in some selections you're reading phrases like " stygian river, Augean stable or between Scylla and Charybdis".

Of course, like I said earlier on they would mean nothing to you until you check them up.

5. Generate Vividly In Your Mind, And Pen Down In Your Own Words, In One Or Two Sentences, The Central Idea In The Selection.

Like I said earlier, every printed page has a central idea or core of thought which you're hoping to understand.

As you go through the poem bring your own thought into sharp focus on the author's theme.

This helps to clarify your own interpretation.

For example, as you read Wole Soyinka's "Mohammed Ali By The  RingSide, 1985." you feel the power, pace, prestige, and the royalty of perhaps the most enigmatic and idolized boxer ever to take to the ring through a catalog of reverential metaphors the poet deploys at some stage in the poem.

You'll no doubt be filled with awe!
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Nigerian Telecommunication Sector and the Rising Spates of Subscribers' Exploitation.


Tell me what it 's if not the height of “corporate irresponsibility, and unethical business practice" would make a company to advertise a set of products and services alongside explicit terms and conditions to guide its loyal customers towards making informed choices yet surreptitiously keeps going back on its words by charging them fees other than figures quoted in real time marketing/advertisement communication.


There’s also the flagrant act of breach of contract by denying clients the use of products and services after deductions have been made to their exact value or more in naira and kobo.

How'd you feel if you are to discover a brand you've so loyally followed over the years to be increasingly involved in this type of unwarranted abuse towards you?

You'd definitely feel bad, very bad!  Won't you?

What could be worse is yet the non-availability of a mechanism through which to seek prompt and satisfactory redress by way of refund or re-supply with the exact volume of products and services the concern clients have been cheated of.

More so, that the regulatory ombudsmen like the National Communication Commission (NCC) and the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria (CPCN) whose oversight function it is to ensure like they say international best practices in the sector are seemed to be at best complacent in the discharge of said functions for how'd all these sharp practices keep happening right before their noses and nothing is done.

I know a lot of people in Nigeria can so easily connect with the above introductory scenario.

And at the height of this daily malaise, they can only groan in silence or curse under their breath.

It could also be said that they've grown accustomed to it; and see it as something normal in the course of their quotidian activities.

Even those who do not see it as the norm are left with very few options.

The Nigeria Telecommunication industry long dominated by the inefficient and corruption-ridden state own NITEL;  but got the needed Private Sector Participation (PSP) boost it has long craved for over a decade ago.

There were euphoria and fanfare from the Nigerian hoi-polloi who breathe a sigh of relief that at long last they are about to experience adequate and efficient voice and data penetration like their counterparts the world over.

Like anything new, they paid more initially both for the gadgets and the services with hopes that things will drastically scale down over time.

Indeed, that's exactly what happened despite the expressed impossibility in some quarters all thanks to healthy rivalry among the brands competing for both leadership and a share of the sprawling market which Nigeria represents.

Despite the numerous gains achieved overtime in the sector, there is, however, a growing concern among the subscribers over what they term as "systematic, well orchestrated and ongoing exploitation" by virtually all the Telecom providers.

The well-indexed complains include dropped calls, Ponzi promotions whose winners are at best ghostly, auto-activated products and services for which subscribers are totally clueless, data subscription deemed exhausted without use, recharge multipliers promos which are nothing but giving with the right hand but taking with the left, and dubious flash ads tendentiously sent to induce unintentional clicks.

The list goes on and on!

So far their many concerns have not been adequately addressed except for the hefty $5.2 billion dollars fine later reduced to $3.9 billion dollars after months of negotiation and re-negotiation with the federal government slapped on MTN by the NCC over what it termed a breach of trust.

The payment period is three years.

It must be remembered that NCC and the telecom providers agreed to a penalty of $1,000 dollars for each unregistered SIM in operation after the grace period to register all SIMS on their networks.

Though the heavy penalty was meant to serve as a deterrent both to the erring company and others who might want to tow a similar path; surprisingly however, the attitudes of the company in question and to a lesser degree others have become one devoid of expected remorse if subsequent outcries from subscribers are anything to go by.

It has continued to act in a manner of a snake badly wounded that will spare nothing in sight whether human or not in a bid to have its revenge.    

While the case above is beneficial only to the government, the people in almost all other situations are left in the lurch to bear the brunt of a system that's fraught with wanton irregularities.

Aside from this, what we've seen is routine read-out riot acts and slaps-in-the-wrist caution which has regularly proved to be ineffective against a group of compulsive thieves hiding behind their supercomputers spread across the nation to fleece helpless Nigerians.

Something many interpreted to mean that they have been abandon as carrion to these Vultures called foreign investors.

And because most of these fraudulent activities are auto-generated by an unmanned system having been design and test-run by the operators' personnel that make it particularly difficult to detect by end users who lacks the required capacity to do so.

To illustrate this, let me relate one of my numerous personal experiences.

"In the second transaction of its kind, I subscribed for a monthly data plan of 1.5GB at 1,000 naira. This was around 11pm in the evening of Friday, 5th of April, 2017.

In addition to 1,000 naira worth of data, I got a bonus of 20MB and 1GB respectively.

So I went to bed assured that my data need for that month is taken care of.

Alas, at daybreak. the purchased data is nowhere to be found.

I double checked to be sure what was going on with their shortcode to confirm and the response was a crypt "you've exhausted your data plan, and to continue browsing you'll be charged XYZ amount"

I immediately pressed the exit button.

Annoyed and yet hopeful of restitution, subsequently, I routed a call to the first online agent who confirmed the recharge of 1,000 naira and promises to report to the management with an  anodyne parting shot that something will be done in 24 hours.

After waiting for almost 20 hours and nothing is happening, I routed another call to an online agent.

This time I got a shocker of response that I've exhausted my data from what the agent could see on the system.

I pressed further for more clarification on what could have gone wrong because obviously, I couldn't be calling without been genuine aggrieved.
He insisted that I've exhausted my data plan and there's nothing he can do about.

I felt a fit of biting anger inside of me while his voice trail off with the well-rehearsed word of appreciation for choosing the network in question."

I know many people have had and still having similar bitter experiences with no dependable platform for justice.

The question is, are we going to allow this type of institutional rape (or call it corruption if you like) to continue unabated?

It's an aberration gone too far and must be stopped by every means legal.

The buck of the task stops on the desk of NCC and the NCPA; and by extension federal government of 

Nigeria because subscribers really are helpless in the face of these rampant rapes of trust/contract unleashed against them by virtually all the telecom providers in Nigeria.

I hope and pray the concern agencies to see these as a national embarrassment and find a way to put a final stop to it.

The loss to subscribers if estimated would run into several billion of naira annually.

And to imagine such a huge some is been dishonestly made off Nigerians by no one else but foreigners while the government adopts seemingly an indifferent approach speaks to the fact that we've become a morally complicit nation which care less about the welfare of its citizenry.

The danger is predictable enough, it would embolden the perpetrators to continue in the path of illegality guaranteed that nothing will happen to them both in the long and short term.

And that'll truly mean as been vociferously peddled that Nigeria is a ZOO where everything and anything simply goes.










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How to Grasp the Meaning of Printed Page ( I )


Anywhere in the world, the printed page whatever the subject matter is performed basically the same functions.

It informs, educates and entertains us.

It is clearly safe then to say it is a world of shared meanings between two important communities whose roles are nothing but complimentary.

Which communities am I referring to here?

The communities of writers and readers of course!

Any printed page like you know is a product of the writer's experience or experiences, and where necessary those of others he feels the stimulus 
to communicate. Or in many instances too imaginative.

Whether you like it or not, the ways and forms this takes are solely left to the writer's prerogatives and expertise.

It includes but not limited to drama, novel and poetry.

Whatever the form he chooses, words remain yet the tools or the vehicles of his noble endeavor.

Put more aptly words are symbols- keys to ideas he wishes to pass across.

And at any rate, the readers that are well equipped to interpret them will achieve more than others who are not.

Take for instance words like- 'Ogun Lakaaye Oshiimole'.

To anyone for that matter who is alien to the Yoruba culture these are totally a row of meaningless letters.

But to the Yoruba’s from western Nigeria, it is the symbol of a big fearful spirit.

In fact, those words perfectly characterized their god of iron and his threesome personalities.

While the interpreter's primary goal is to derive all the joyful benefits in any work of literature.

And appropriate actions are taken based on various insights shared by the writer.

Or alternatively, that his sense of feel-good mood is greatly enhanced after completing an adventure among one or a set literary masterpieces.

For indeed there are pieces crafted to give us a great escape from our world of painful realities.

To make us exercise our own innate imaginative abilities too.

In the course of doing just this, the reader is more likely to encounter obstacles to his goal.

However contrary to believe in some quarters, writers do not deliberately set out to place barriers in the path of people they wish to inform, educate and entertain.

Because just as we have writer’s blocks, so also are there reader’s blocks which must be demolished before any meaning can be made out of any selection.

You will agree with me that a writer must have crushed his stumbling blocks before being able to craft anything of beneficial note.

Any difficulty experienced by the reader, therefore, could be as a result of archaic or unfamiliar choice of words in the given selection.

Or the work in question is poetic or esoteric expressing know-how exclusive to some social groups.

In some cases too, it could be as a result of words not used in their literary sense.

Whatever the case may be still as a necessity interpreter must find ways of grasping the meaning of any selection before it could be said that his task is done.

In the task of grasping the meaning of the printed page, it is in the writer's best interest to watch out for things that contribute more to making his understanding effortless and above all his joy complete.

WHAT THEN IS LITERATURE?

Writers, Poets, Essayists, Novelists, Columnists, Dramatists are like finely strung and well attuned musical instruments which record the vibrations of life.

Expected, they fill us on a daily basis with the basic beauty and ugliness in life captured by their lively imaginations and even arresting intuitions.

It doesn't end there!

They are visionary, instinctive and even prophetic men and women who see things in life in their diverse proportions both in shapes and colors and measure; and communicate such with ease that comes with their high art in ways less gifted people would not without help.

They see all about us landscapes of beauty; ugliness in its most pronounce or subtle form; looming disasters, triumphs and defeats; joy and sorrow; and struggles of indigenous people the world over.

Literature, therefore, is an imaginative record of meaning and understanding of life in its purest forms as captured by the minds of writers.

Having said that, it should be known that literature has two basic functions namely insight and pleasure.

1) INSIGHT AS A FUNCTION OF LITERATURE.

Writers generally offer insights into ideas, aspirations of people and Nations, events, places and experience of their own lives inclusive just as it’s more about others with views to enriching our lives.

For instance Wole Soyinka the Nigerian Nobel laureate writes exclusively about struggles for political emancipation and social justice in his country as well as in the larger African and global stages.

He is an iconoclastic dramatist and poet who create compelling literature of existence drawing freely from his rich cultural milieu.

He is equally an educator par excellence. He is an unrepentant cultural and human rights activist.

Men and women like that abound the world over to whom we would eternally be indebted for creating continuous writings in different genres at the costs of great personal liberty and even deaths.

Most time the knowledge of a writer's life: his childhood, his politics and beliefs, his struggles can go a long way in helping the reader to understand their works better.

And what he chooses to write about and why he writes the way he writes.

Until you know for instance what American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe went through in life it would be so difficult to completely appreciate why most of his works give us dark and eerie moods.

So in appreciating the works of a writer, readers would need some basic understanding about his life and time.

Insights, as you might have rightly guessed, are significantly about the core of thoughts, philosophy, principles, ideals and themes underlining a work of literature and its creators nonetheless.

While though some literary works betray this expected ends deliberately; most work of art to which literature belongs primarily must have one or more themes it addresses to have meaning.

2) PLEASURE AS A FUNCTION OF LITERATURE.

We derive pleasure in a work of literature through a variety of way.

Whenever readers set out to read a selection they should naturally, be alert to share what the writer sees and feels for some writers are exceedingly gifted at communicating pleasurable dimensions to incidents and realities in life.

Imagine the breathtaking mood of joy or excitement we are thrown when we read some poetic selections possibly because of the poet's uncanny ability to perceive the mysterious or for the daring range of thoughts expressed.

Or for the writer's ability to humor us as the narrative becomes more intensive or dark.

Our ability to partake in this pleasurable function of the literature will depend more on our readiness to have steady connections with the writer regardless of his genre.

Failure to do this might lead regrettably to loss of this an important gain in the process of 'Understanding the Unseen'.

HOW TO DETERMINE WHAT CONTRIBUTE MORE TO OUR PLEASURE:

#FIRST STEP- BEAUTY OF VIVIDNESS IN BASIC SITUATION.

All printed pages describe or document nature, people, events, places, and ideas which of necessity must be of interest to you as a reader for their inspirational, informative, educational, political, cultural, ideological, social and entertainment relevance.

The ability of the writer to communicate these in the most vivid language possible contributes more to the reader's ease at grasping the meaning he wishes to share.

Likewise the interpreter's ability to follow through the fine details of the writer's insights is a skill worth having and nurturing.

Similarly, this vivid description might as well involve personalities who add human dimensions to the narratives.

Indeed, there are no events without personalities behind them.

In this process as readers, we are more likely to encounter ourselves and our joy complete.

Take for example this short passage from ‘At His Brother’s Tomb,’ by Robert Ingersoll: 

Life is narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two extremities.

We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. 

From the voiceless lips of the un-replying dead there comes no word, but in the night of dead hope sees a star,
and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.

#STEP TWO: IMAGES AND IMAGERY.

Image or imagery is a word picture drawn through comparisons between two ideas or objects to show their parallel areas of symbolic similarities.

Much of our pleasure in poetry is due to the beauty of it imagery.

Consider, for instance, in Matthew Arnold’s “The Forsaken Mermaid.” the description of the ocean caverns where we lay:

Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep,
Where the winds are all asleep;
Where the spent lights quiver and gleam,
Where the salt weed sways in the stream,
Where great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with un-shut eyes,
Round the world forever and aye.
                                MATHEW ARNOLD.  
 .
The two figures of speech of simile and metaphor enable readers to see the likeness of two concepts or situations with little or no difficulty at all.

These among others equally make readers participate in a given experience through their minds’ eyes.

Using the device of simile, for example trying to show the solidity of a family a writer may say:

The family is as solid as a rock.

Similarly, a writer trying to metaphorically convey a sense of someone completely immersed in a lot of work might say:

‘He is drowned in paper works.’

#STEP THREE- EFFECTIVE FIGURES OF SPEECH.

Figures of speech generally are imaginative, concrete, economical ways of conveying abstract ideas.

Most literary selections derive their strength from their extensive use.

Literary devices expertly used heighten the meaning of a selection regardless where they were used in the course of its thematic development.

Literary devices in question include alliteration, assonance, allusion, oxymoron, rhyme, metaphor, simile, personification etc.

They are used to draw out richer meanings in a printed page. And readers who are familiar with many would find their task of drawing out the meaning in a selection quite easy.

Take for instance these panegyric lines on the great Mohammed Ali :

Black tarantula whose antics hypnotizes the foes.
Butterfly side-slipping death from the rockets probes.
Bee whose sting, unsheathed, picks the teeth
Of the raging hippopotamus, then fans
The jaw’s convergence with its flighty wings.
Needle that threads the snapping fangs
Of crocodile knots the tusks of an elephant
On rampage. Cricket that clap and chirrups
Round the flailing horn of the rhinoceros,
Then shuffles, does a bugaloo, tap-dances on its tip.

Culled from Wole Soyinka’s poem: ‘Mohammed Ali at the Ring Side, 1985’

Or for example, King Lear, using a metaphor, calls ingratitude a:

Marble-hearted fiend 

Much beauty of simile and metaphors can also be found in Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “The Eagle,”

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Note, finally also, Robert Frost’s use of personification when he talks about his little horse:

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.

From ‘Stopping by Wood on a Snowy Evening’
  
#STEP FOUR- MELODY.

Much of the joy we derive from the printed page is as a result of their rhythms and cadence.

Some poetry selections more than others appeals to us for their rhythmic variations in time and space.

And some writers are more gifted than others with words and their sound.

Through the rhythms in the flow of poetic lines some poets give us unparallel joy.

For instance, W. B Yeats gave us one of the most melodic opening lines in English poetry to date in a poem he wrote in memory of Eva Gore-
booth and Con Mickiewicz. 

And the line goes thus:

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,

No less melodic is this opening line from my own yet to be published poem titled:  The Business Register:’

They were your ideas of a dignified old couple,
Perfect perceptible to eyes,
Index by conservative pieties.

#STEP FIVE- BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE IN GENERAL.

“Language, define, is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols through which a social group cooperates”.

Its written variant is just as beautiful to those who know how to effectively communicate with it.

Through different stylistic approaches open to different writers they call us to routine exercises in grasping the elements of the beauty of their written works.  

This is a beauty from which we are never fully satisfied with.

As might be seen in this utterly magical little poem by the late Alexandrian Greek poet – C.P Cavafy titled ‘The Afternoon Sun’:

“This room, how well I know it.
Now they are rented this one out and the next
As business offices. The whole house has become
Offices for agents, and merchants, and Companies.

O how familiar it is, this room.

Near the door just here there was the sofa,
And in front of it a Turkish carpet;
Close by the shelf with two yellow vases.
On the right; no, opposite, a wardrobe with a mirror.
In the middle a table where he used to write;
And the three big wicker chairs.
At the side of the window was the bed
Where we used to make love so many times.

They must be somewhere the poor old things.
At the side of the window was the bed;
The afternoon sun fell on it half-way up.

....One afternoon at four o’clock, we parted
Only for a week  ....Alas,
The week became perpetual.”

STEP SIX- TONE-COLOUR.

Through tone-colour some writers give us great pleasure. By tone-color we mean sound effect in the language in general.

A whole printed page may give us pleasure because it sounds lovingly hints the idea or emotions which the author is trying to convey; for example 

... The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.

                    ALFRED TENNYSON.

....


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