Not only are tangents in novels the product of a slower, more easygoing culture we seem to have lost, but that lazy meandering that nowadays is edited out is so good a representation of creative thought that losing it we probably risk losing certain productive habits of creative thought. We risk putting our faith in an exclusively left-brain process. We risk younger readers not understanding that the meander can be just as effective an approach to the truth. We risk neglecting to show them how to mine the resulting daydreaming (that is the brain's default setting after all), for the insights and creative inspirations it offers.
An argument for slowing down reading.
"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield