Saturday, August 13, 2016
SO MANY BOOKS SO LITTLE TIME
Books are timeless. What was written yesterday is often still an explanation for today.
I went to the library and picked up Little Scarlet, from Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins' series. It takes place in 1965, in the time of the Los Angeles riots. Mosley explains, through Easy Rawlins, the feelings of that time that sparked the riots; that same feeling seems to be the motivate of the Black Lives Matter movement. Times change, but social issues don’t change.
I don’t often read westerns; but for some reason I picked up the first of a four-part series, Sin Killer, by Larry McMurtry who wrote Lonesome Dove. The story is about a wealthy English aristocratic family chartering a hunting vacation in the American west during the Indian wars of the 1830’s. Every member of this family is so self-absorbed and feels so privileged and superior that you don’t actually feel sorry for the loses and hardships they bring upon themselves. As I read it I can very easily replace Lord Berrybender and his family with Donald Trump and his family.
I expect that the people alive today will probably be the last book readers. It seems likely that future generations will receive their news and stories solely via video; that books and periodicals will be considered passé. Information, stories and history will have to be formatted in 3-d, virtual reality and holograms in order to keep people’s attention.
To me, reading is a quiet and contemplative endeavor; it activates the imagination portion of the brain and places you as an observer in a story. As such, imagination is a requirement for reading enjoyment.
When I was young I could take half a dozen toy soldiers, go outside, construct forts, imagine scenarios and entertain myself for hours. I built many of my toys and often occupied an imaginary world.
Today’s children are raised in front of a TV. As soon as they are old enough to understand cause and effect parents switch them to computers. By pre-teen they have been grafted a new appendage called cell phone. A day without a cellphone would be like an amputation. These children will probably not be readers – except perhaps on-line.
It begs the question whether these children, constantly entertained by technology, will develop the area of the brain that allows imagination. It is an evolutionary trait that if you do not use a function of your physical or mental facility, over generations, you lose it.
We live in a college town; we constantly frequent the library; I observe very few children reading or being encouraged to read. When I see students with reading material they are usually wearing ear buds.
Where am I going with this? Hell I don’t know. I’m old – I am expected to ramble. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.