Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Masters or Slaves

From Colin Brezicki of St. Catharines in an Ontario newspaper article titled 'Books not read': -

"As an English teacher, I sympathize with essayist Robert Costanzo’s  fear that 'deep, prolonged reading is losing its relevance'. My own take on students’ apathy to reading literary fiction is that they are now empowered by their technology, able to traverse the cyber universe with the swipe of a finger, while reading fiction has always required a surrender of the imagination to the writer. Empowered and entitled 'digital natives' are not hardwired for surrender.

In the new cyber culture of instant gratification, distraction and multitasking, the literary imagination takes too long, is too slow and unwavering, and so it will shrivel from lack of use. Or, at the least, become a vestigial organ, an appendix. 

The irony, of course, is that the masters of technology are also its slaves, a paradox that literary fiction has explored from many angles. But no one goes there any more."

Great books that require "deep and prolonged reading" may sometimes be made into movies. Sometimes the result works, like 'Lord of the Rings' or the 'Life of Pi'; other times it doesn't so well. It seemed to me that the recent release 'Midnight's Children' was in the latter camp. Salman Rushdie's droll, meandering prose doesn't really work as a picture. Much of the wit and whimsy is lost. One needs to linger over his text as with any great writing. Is the rising generation learning how to linger over anything? Devote single-minded attention to one thing for hours at a time?  Be master of their time and attention?

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