Looking at the literary landscape now, I realize I am not alone in my choice to remain un-schooled in literature. It seems many of my baby-boomer brethren have also found other things to do more timely than picking up a good book and getting lost in it: Super Bowls, talk radio, video games, gardening, souped up cars, March Madness, mountain climbing, cable television, Twitter. Even motorcycle riding – gasp! The list of diversions is endless. But of these diversions, perhaps the greatest is work.
My long-day work in school administration provided me with all the excuse I needed to remain ungrounded in letters.
WHY SHARE THIS? I believe the discourse in our country – and our fundamental understanding of the tenets of our democracy are sacrificed when the bulk of the population – like me – doesn’t take time to immerse ourselves in the timeless thinking of others. When we do not engage in a conversation with the greats, when the last thing we heard we take as gospel, when we believe that those who are lettered are somehow elitists, when the immediate takes precedence over the greater good, the greater good suffers. Ulin suggests:
“If we frame every situation in terms of right and wrong, we never have to wrestle with complexity; if we define the world in narrow bands of black and white, we don’t have to parse out endless shades of gray.” (page 94)
“We regain the world by withdrawing from it just a little, by stepping back from the noise, the tumult, to discover our reflections in another mind. As we do, we join a broader conversation, by which we transcend ourselves and are enlarged.” (page 151)
READING THAT FITZGERALD QUOTE the first time, I focused on those with whom I disagree and think how foolish they are. Reading again, I realize that the quote is about me. I came to understand that I am responsible for the advantages I’ve not had. Concurrently, I realized that I can do something about it.
“Hand me that copy of Dante.”
RESOURCES AND NOTES:
Ulin, David L. The Lost Art of Reading; Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2010. $12.95 – Please see your local, independent bookshop.
"The Book Seller" is located at 107 Mill Street, Grass Valley, CA. (530) 272-2131.
PREVIOUS POSTS that may relate:
Literacy Deficit: What? http://thechurchoftheopenroad.blogspot.com/2011/01/literacy-americas-deficit.html
Literacy Deficit: So What? http://thechurchoftheopenroad.blogspot.com/2011/01/literacy-americas-deficit-so-what.html
Literacy Deficit: Now What? http://thechurchoftheopenroad.blogspot.com/2011/01/literacy-americas-deficit-now-what.html
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