Monday, May 28, 2007

Long live the Dyspublic

A Kansas City bookstore owner is burning the books he can not give away.

I have to admit, I sympathise with the guy. The written word is pretty much dead these days. Most adults and children do not care for books, and the ones they do enjoy are a far cry from what anyone would call "literature."

I blame teachers and modern society as a whole. It just is not fashionable to read anymore. When I was in school they had idiotic programs that were intended to trick kids in to wanting to read. These programs were stupid and the prizes were lame.

I believe Neil Postman best described the state we are in when he contrasted the novels 1984 and A Brave New World:

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. "

Kids do not feel that the written word can have any relevance to them. A teacher friend of mine put it quite succinctly: "The kids are bored with the books." The answer to this seems to be: "Give them trivial non-sense to read that in no way helps them realize the truth about their souls."

I know the kids are bored with the books. That is no reason to write off their value.

We are slouching toward a dystopia full of brain dead children who can sing every word of the latest pop princess's ode to rebellious-conformist onanism, but who can not read a single line of Plato without falling into fits of apathy.

The Republic is dead. Long live the Dyspublic.