Monday, September 18, 2006

The Worth of Words

I just read one of the most disturbing things ever -- a case against the significance of reading, and in support of reading literacy going by the wayside over the next two decades. Please, someone, tell me whether this is satire -- something along the lines of Swift's "A Modest Proposal," though not nearly as well done -- or whether this is real.

Strangely, I'm much more comfortable contemplating my own eventual physical death than I am pondering the possibility of the twin deaths of literature and reading.

6 comments:

Casey said...

That's depressing. Somewhere in there the "author" (seems a gracious label in this case) says that it's no big deal if young people don't learn to read long, complicated texts simply because "they won't ever need to."

What a tragic way of thinking--as if necessity is the only cause for action. They won't ever need to fly a kite either, or play golf, or poker, or make pancakes... all they'll need to do is push buttons on a keypad.

Here's the future!

Monica said...

Right, Casey. What disturbed me most was that there was no mention, implicitly or otherwise, of literature being important simply because it's literature. It's as if he is saying that there is no value in literature (or, I suppose, in philosophical or theological texts for that matter) in and of itself. It's useless. The guy's an idiot.

nedric said...

My mom is a reading specialist for middle-school aged children. When I have doubts about my career, it is usually in light of how important I perceive her work to be: Imagine, I could be helping kids to learn to read instead of researching phenomenology!

I can't help but hear him as a harbinger of the inevitable totalization of culture. Yet I did get a bit embarrassed and self-conscious about the possibility of elitism. And I also started to wonder: Can we who read in the academy honestly say we are reading for its own sake? Aren't we reading because we need to (either by an internal necessity or by an external necessity - comp exams!)?

Monica said...

Well, Nedric, unless I'm deluding even myself, I would say that much of the reading I do is for enjoyment or personal edification -- completely outside of whether it's required reading or not. I suppose the fact that I get "credit" for it is just a bonus. I'm doing what I love and believe in, and hope to one day get paid for it, which is not something most people can say, I think.

nedric said...

Thanks - sometimes I forget that I want to be doing this.

Monica said...

Yeah, I hear ya -- I have those moments too, from time to time. Be of good cheer!