Why Reading Is Important–

–TO ME AND TO SOCIETY

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My father could scarcely read.

At the time I was born already well into middle age, my father was from a different era and a very tough background. Had dropped out of school in his teens. After he married, my mother forced him to attend night school while he worked days in Detroit shops and factories. By the time I came around he was semi-proficient. What he most enjoyed were the comic sections in newspapers, and boxing magazines.

My gateway to reading– like many young guys– was comic books. Spiderman and company. After awhile I became hungry for more challenging reading. Mysteries were stimulating. I devoured everything by Raymond Chandler, whose paperback books carried enticing titles on dangerous-looking covers.

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Eventually, while working nights as a clerk in a railroad yard– with time to kill between trains– I moved up to the heavyweights of reading: Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. War and Peace and The Idiot. Life-changing novels. The kind of artistic experience which expands the mind and the imagination, opening up new vistas, entire worlds.
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HOW important is reading to the development of the mind?

Many educational experts have believed it’s critically important. Here’s one named Samuel L. Blumenfeld on the topic, from an old book called How to Tutor:

Reading is the most important single skill a child will learn during his entire school career, for on the ability to read depends the development of everything else. In fact, reading is the beginning of real intellectual development, and if the child is not taught to read properly, his entire intellectual development will be handicapped. The reason for this is quite simple. Language is the vehicle of thought. We formulate all our concepts in terms of words. If we restricted our thinking and learning only to the words we heard and spoke, our intellectual development would not be very great. The written word, however, is the depository of all humanity’s complex thinking, and an individual must have easy access to the world of written language to be able to increase his own intellectual development. Thus, the facility with which a person reads can influence the degree of his intellectual growth. If a child is taught to read via methods which make reading disagreeable to him, he will turn away from the written word entirely and deprive himself of man’s principle means of intellectual development.

TODAY among the new generation, within schools and outside of them, are millions of functional illiterates. Wasted potential. I know. I’ve worked as a substitute teacher in inner city schools and I’ve seen how schools are failing kids.

NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT for the future of this society, this civilization, than finding ways to connect with these young people– to get them reading. Reading is the gateway to survival in this ultra-competitive world. Reading opens neuropathways in the brain, increasing real intelligence. Contrary to what genetics apologists at publications like Quillette believe, no one is assigned their fate at birth. The best way to adjust that fate is by reading. 

It’s no accident that billionaire industrialist Elon Musk– he of the gigantic imagination conceiving exciting electric cars and spaceships to Mars, then building them– as a child was an avid reader. According to his biographer, Ashlee Vance, “The most striking part of Elon’s character as a young boy was his compulsion to read.” Musk’s self-imposed reading regimen included two sets of encyclopedias.

IS literature today reaching the mass of people? No way! To compete in this fast-paced hyper-busy age, writing will need to grab new readers from the first sentence and not let go of them.

This is the objective we’re striving for with our development of the “3D” multidimensional short story. Narratives of speed and immediacy which demand to be read.

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To achieve our ends we’ll need writers willing to discard past ways of thinking. At the moment even most “alternative” literary sites and presses are run by intellectuals or pseudo-intellectuals more interested in impressing the reader than connecting with the person.

Yet to expand the market for books, zeens, reading, connection is everything.

Our mission is to create the new literary product– which we call Pop Lit– exciting reading packaged in a striking format. Then begin spreading those new creations into schools and neighborhoods. An ambitious task– but worth pursuing.
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-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS

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Thinking Beyond the Flat Narrative

ABOUT THREE-DIMENSIONAL THINKING

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(image per uncyclopedia.)

Social media is forcing us to change how we see things. Because of social media, our minds are changing how we perceive and process reality.

PREVIOUS THINKING

The previous way of thinking and perceiving is to take a news story handed us by the Big Screen at face value. Yet what you’re receiving has been heavily edited– often in order to present a rigged, structured viewpoint. It looks at a news item from a single angle. Everything from established news outlets is geared toward narrowing and focusing the story, for greater impact.

QUESTIONING THE NARRATIVE

Social media adds more information– often from unapproved sources like your average citizen. (The essence of democracy.) Unexpected video– or the full video before editing. New, different angles. The truth of a matter is suddenly not as certain as we were originally led to believe.

Many of those trained to think one-dimensionally have trouble handling this. A leftist friend of mine recently tweeted out this statement:

The idea that there are two sides to every story, and that you gotta hear ’em, is probably the most destructive ideological position operating today.

In truth there are more than two sides to every story– but at least two. We should accept two at minimum, because the alternative is totalitarianism.

SEEING THE FULL PICTURE

Modified by CombineZP

The person who wants to be more than a blind follower of this herd or that one, has to think in as broad a fashion as possible– and engage in games or exercises designed to get the mind outside a narrow corridor. Chess runs on rigid rules, but trains the player to think side-to-side as well as straight ahead. More importantly, to be good at chess you have to put yourself in the shoes of your opponent, to see the game board through his eyes, from his viewpoint. Poker trains the player to study the person as well as the cards– to try to understand the minds of a variety of players.

The three-dimensional thinker is ahead of the curve. Within several years, those who aren’t seeing the world three-dimensionally will be far behind.

Examining a variety of views and opinions simultaneously isn’t comfortable or easy. For indoctrinated ideologues especially, confrontation with contrary viewpoints is especially painful. It goes against their schooling; against every part of the way they’ve been trained and educated.

Standard education practices teach students in a linear way. The student progresses in stages, from one level to another, as if in a corridor– using texts which proceed in a linear fashion. Everything is geared to reinforce the impression that the universe works in a linear, one-dimensional mode. But it doesn’t. The environment we emerge into is far more complex than we’d like to believe. Linear thinking is a shorthand way of understanding the world– but only that. Extremely limited and ridiculously incomplete.

THE CHOICES

The creation of smartphones and the rise of social media have given us a bombardment of information. There are three ways for ourselves and our brains to handle that.

A.)  Our personalities and our brains break down in the face of it. We go insane.

B.)  A totalitarian state or giant monopoly drastically restricts the flow of information the public receives. Unapproved participants to be kicked out; shut down; disallowed.

C.)  Our minds adjust. We learn to adapt, to process information faster. Which means, for one thing, faster reading. Not quite speed reading, but close. (The direction our Attention-Deficit society has been going in anyway.) Which will have many consequences for the literary art.

I’ll discuss those consequences, and the effect of three-dimensional thinking on the arts in general, in a future essay.
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-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS