Directions in the Anthropology of Contemporary Japan
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 20: 395-431 (Volume publication date October 1991)
William W. Kelly
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

With reading “Directions in the Anthropology of Contemporary Japan,” I felt like I reached the goal I set back at the beginning of November of having the level of comprehension from my first read-through that I only got after a second read-through at that time.  The change came faster and more suddenly than I had expected.  I noticed a marked improvement several weeks ago, but it has taken me a little while to settle into the change.  With this review it hit me that I was once again reading in groups of words; I was seeing the written page differently.  I hadn’t noticed that I hadn’t been doing that until I started doing it again.  I think back to the feeling of mental motion sickness while reading, and of how I seemed to have vocabulary stored in my mind that I couldn’t easily access consciously; and I believe the fact that I was reading word by word played a big part since vocabulary is best learned and understood in context.  It was as if I was breaking apart sentences and attempting to reconstruct them when I saw a period.

I experienced a higher occurrence of that phenomenon where common words all of a sudden seemed very strange.  I would see a word like “door” and stop to wonder whether that were really the word for that thing.  I would mouth the word and say it out loud; and it felt strange and it sounded strange.  Maybe this is what comes from seeing words stripped of context whether it’s because the word is actually standing alone or because I’ve parsed out the word in my mind.

I remember back in elementary school when a kid had trouble reading, he would sometimes use a straight-edge to underline the sentence he was currently reading and to partially block off the rest of the page.  Perhaps having this image in mind led me to think on some level that reading in smaller bits was the way to go when rebuilding reading comprehension.  If I had said to myself, “Hey, stop reading in little bits,” would I have been able to do that… or is it that reading in small bits first is just how you learn and relearn to read.

I’ll say more about the actual content of “Directions in the Anthropology of Contemporary Japan” later in the week.  Some of the things Kelly had to say about  Shintoism clarified for me why I felt such a connection to Shintoism when I first learned about it in elementary school.