Allow me to be a bit provocative.

For no reason, heres a photo of TVs Alan Thicke

For no reason, here's a photo of TV's Alan Thicke

Normally with my posts, I tend write about the merits of various books that I’ve read, often making subliminal references to H.P. Lovecraft throughout.  But this time, I want to delve into something different, notably something seemingly systemic (you’re welcome for that alliteration).

My generation doesn’t read books.  For pleasure, anyway.  This is a pretty bold claim, considering that it is objectively false.  But, it does feel quite true at times, doesn’t it?

This has been kicking around in the back of my mind for a while, but it was brought to the forefront yesterday morning as I was talking with one of my professors.

“A lot of these kids just don’t read,” my professor lamented.  “If they don’t read anything, how can their writing be anything but a narcissistic exercise?”

This comment stuck with me all day, as it’s so painfully correct.  Narcissism becomes the default if one can only comprehend and understand oneself (and frankly, even understanding oneself is nearly impossible).  Education seeks to remedy this via the introduction of new thoughts, ideas, cultures, etc.  Yet if wisdom is the ultimate goal of acquiring knowledge by way of formal education, where do we stand if there is an apparent absence of intellectual curiosity (i.e. people don’t read books), as there is among my peers?

Now, I know you’re saying to yourself, “It’s a wonder he can type at all with those ham fists of his” but hear out my clumsy, hackneyed argument based on literally nothing but subjective observation.  We’ve allowed our minds to atrophy and a lot of it has to do with the aforementioned lack of intellectual curiosity that would ideally lead one to read for the sake of acquiring knowledge so as to one day have what can be called wisdom (for the record, I read probably too regularly and I’ll probably never have any actual wisdom–but good, old-fashioned book learnin’ can be a pretty solid substitute).

I recall back in 2006 when I attended my first class at the university (which was Intro to Political Science with Dr. David Ray).  To paraphrase Dr. Ray near the beginning of that first lecture:  “I require that you only read three books for this class.  It used to be nine, but then I noticed over time that students began having trouble with the reading load, so I starting requiring only seven books.  That became five.  I hope to die by the time we’re down to just one.”

What does this all mean?  I don’t know.  I’m mostly just exacting the online equivalent of an old man shaking his fist in the air as those damned kids run all over his lawn again, tearing up his petunias and alarming his dog and whatnot.  This is my advocacy for reading books.  Real, demanding books.  Books that challenge you while provoking thought and inspiration.  Prove my broad, amateurish generalizations wrong!

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No Comments on "Atrophy"

  1. pantone175c
    23/03/2010 at 2:50 pm Permalink

    ” I hope to die by the time we’re down to just one.” hahahha!

    Nice post Ryan. I’m going to finish that book i’ve been trying to power through. I sometimes find it hard to read on a consistent basis, its like i have to set aside time for it and their are SO many other distractions…

  2. Kelsey
    24/03/2010 at 9:57 pm Permalink

    Sad part is, for me anyway (and maybe it’s not sad at all), I go out of my way to NOT read the assigned text (because it’s just that, assigned) and read whatever the heck else I want too. I’m extremely good at it too.

    But I agree. The desire to read for pleasure has dwindled over the years, decades, and has been replaced with technology. It’s just as easy to sit in front of a computer and research why the dinosaurs couldn’t talk as it is to read a science fiction book.

    Books are afterthoughts to computers, iPods, and TV now’n’days. Sad, but true.

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