Books have long provided relief from life’s turmoils and disappointments. Every experience and feeling has been explained, attenuated, and cast through prisms of author perspective. We find ourselves through texture, tone, and pace that even the weakest writers can randomly parse into notes and chords that resonate through the web of human memory. Life has always been complex but it’s a relatively few anymore who rely on the printed word to understand their lives. Neither schools nor society seem to make those investments anymore.
The desire to understand yourself is world and species wide, although the printed word, a complex medium that takes time to learn, requires deep attention and comparative memory, to appreciate changes of timing and circumstance as the reader ages. Life’s lessons are on display in every interaction but complete stories, whether they are fiction or non, provide a sense of completeness that is almost always missing from day to day interactions. For those who prefer to understand the complete story they rely on books gathering the facts and develop their own opinions in context.
Fifty years ago this was common and expected.
Today however, books and book learning are in decline as the Internet, keyword searching and tweets are standing at center stage, parsing text, unearthing answers for homework while on the social media side conveying, cuts and slashes communicated as insults or bon mots that add nothing to understanding. It simply turns the acquisition of self-knowledge into potential blood sport.
Unfortunately insults leave scars while the empty-headed twits who launch them, move on mindlessly to inflict fresh damage to their next victims. Writers using the book form do a better job.
When it is repartee between consenting adults so be it. But our youth is also drawn into the fray and are rarely prepared to be humiliated and do not understand that humiliation is dangerous when your sense of self is yet settled.
Books are simply a safer place to discover and understand yourself.
As a family we have encouraged reading at an early age and I’ll be promoting educational choices for our grandchildren that focus on reading. The Internet comparatively, has transformed the world at the expense of truth, civility and fairness and brings risk and danger as baggage. Books are the far better medium.
So let 2023 be the year of reconsideration of the importance and power of the printed book. We are better, happier and safer citizens with the long form.
So I close this brief screed to express my thanks to writers and readers who make the world a better place.