Saturday, December 22, 2007

Twilight of the Books

What will life be like if people stop reading?

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2007/12/24/071224crat_atlarge_crain?printable=true

Commentary on this by Ran Prieur:

"There's a smart piece in the New Yorker this week, Twilight of the Books, about how reading and non-reading affect human consciousness. In ancient Greece, when reading was new, it was a kind of trance or possession -- people had trouble distinguishing between the reader and the text, the actor and the role. You can still see that today, when fans of TV shows treat the actors like their characters, or a cowardly president can be popular by swaggering like a "strong leader," or activists think protests and petitions can change anything.

One of the things we're going to have to do, before we get out of this ugly age of history, is to learn to awaken from the trance of the symbolic -- I don't mean we won't go there at all, but that we won't lose focus on what's symbolic and what's real. George Bush is more spiritually evolved than his opponents when he says the Constitution is "just a piece of paper." Laws and treaties and money and other pieces of paper begin as agreements between people, but when the people no longer agree, they become meaningless, and the advantage goes to the first person to notice the loss of meaning."

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