“Why I Read,” by Andrew Schatkin
We live in a time of the visual and sound. Day-in and day-out, we are all assaulted by images and blaring sound, whether cable television, movies, DVDs, or the internet. The world moves faster and faster. It would appear that print, as a form of mass communication is, if not fast disappearing, then on the wane.
Many people read only if compelled to do so to gain fast and immediate information. The very concept of literature and books is in danger of extinction. One must and may ask, why read?
The question is a pressing one, since books and literature, as modes of pleasure and intellectual stimulation, are in peril.
It must be said, as a matter of clear thinking, that there is not greater intrinsic value to be attached to print, as opposed to sound and image. While vision and sound may be said to equally-inform and entertain as printed books, they are not to be criticized or decried.
Yet, all in all, I continue to read and I offer two reasons. First, books and literature take me to regions of thinking and imagination that I would otherwise be deprived of. Milton in Paradise Lost takes me to the fall of man from paradise. Homer takes me to the epic warrior culture. Dante takes me to the worldview of the Middle Ages, if not the Christian worldview of Paradise, Purgatory, and the Inferno. Anthony Trollope takes me to the world of Victorian landed gentry and the aristocratic class and the clergy of the Church of England. Each great work of literature and author offers me distinct and different imaginative pleasures.
Second these pleasures, as they are offered, are not quick and fleeting. They engage, stretch, and involve my mind and spirit. They open new vistas to me and offer me new directions.
Every great work of literature, whether philosophy, poetry or the novel offer me peculiar pleasures, not in a fleeting image of thunderous sound where we are more passive recipients, but in a process of involvement and development.
I read because, in truth, I enter other realms and other minds and I gain access in a profound lasting way to ideas, concepts, insights and values I would otherwise be cut off from and be in intellectual deprivation of.
Every great work of literature expands my being and brings me into the minds, souls, and imagination of others. I remain myself, yet share what these minds may give and offer us. Reading for me is an adventure, taking me to places and realms I would never have been otherwise. Sitcoms cannot replace Keats. “Leave it to Beaver” cannot offer competition to War and Peace. The first is a quick fix; the other offer a leave of involvement and learning that stretches our minds beyond the superficial offerings of television and movies. The one offers imaginative involvement, and in the other we remain passive recipients of superficiality.
I now would like to address another reason to read books and read good books. At the present we are assaulted by a barrage of could be termed media and political propaganda. President Trump is called a racist for his position that illegal immigrants should be possibly arrested and deported. The President was the owner of a billion dollar international business in NYC with a completely diverse workforce: blacks, women, Latinos, and gays. Moreover, in addressing this issue of illegal immigration, he is protecting jobs and employment for poor legal American citizens whether black, Latino, white, or Asian. In addition, he has brought substantial employment to the minority communities. This President is not racist and in fact proper thinking and reading would lead to this conclusion. The President has been called a religious bigot for his travel ban. His accusers in that respect conveniently refuse to recognize that in this country, European countries, and African countries, Muslim religious/cultural/political system has caused many atrocities. In addition, many Muslim countries were not included, such as Indonesia, Egypt, and Nigeria. The President correctly took steps to protect the American people from further attacks. His actions in this travel ban, far from being racist or bigoted, were appropriate and reasonable. Again, an example of the political lie the democrats claim to be humanitarians and lovers of the poor and underprivileged in support open borders and illegal immigration, when in fact this policy defies the rule of law this country and is based and founded upon and endorses mass illegality and law-breaking. Our society, in its medical system, educational system, and employment, is not to be manipulated for the sake and for the benefit of persons illegally here or, better put, the humanitarian political hype of the left carries no truth and weight. Illegal immigrants take jobs from the poor of this country, whether the poor of West Virginal, Missouri, or Arkansas, or the poor of Brooklyn and the Bronx.
One again we are faced with the political propagandas and lies. Reading, and the knowledge gained by reading, enable us to sift through this barrage of lies and propaganda and enable us to reach the truth and understand the events and the lies and falsities that perhaps the evil forces that beset us seek to fool and trick us with.
The Devil is a liar.