cura librorum

‘Future of the Book’ ?
August 13, 2009, 02:20
Filed under: Children's & YA, Thoughts

Stumbled across a wonderful and thoughtful blog tonight. I particularly liked the article that actually addresses the objection to the sweeping trend of ‘steamy & pulpy books’ for young adults. I posted a comment but I’ll have to retrieve it later. Read here at ‘If:Book’ The Future of the Book: The Almighty Word

The article itself is a bit more nuanced than I let on about the differences between the written word or the image as a vehicle for communicating and building intelligence and curiosity in children, but it ends up at this conclusion:

What kids actually need, what we all need, are higher standards across the board. Not more books but better books; not fewer movies or comics or pop songs, but fewer bad ones. This worthier goal won’t be achieved by blandly extolling the virtues of one medium or lambasting another, but by developing a stronger, richer, more vibrant culture all around.

Indeed. If a book is nothing but a reflection of the television culture, then what’s the point of reading in the first place? If it teaches us nothing, then what is it? In the end it depends on your view of what the point of literature is.  The other day I picked up a beautiful $5.98 copy of Harold Bloom’s ‘Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages’ at beloved Half-Price Books. Here’s what the esteemed literary scholar of Shakespeare has to say regarding the distinction between the published and portrayed:

‘I am old-fashioned and romantic enough to believe that many children, given the right circumstances, are natural readers until this instinct is destroyed by media. The tyranny of the screen threatens any order in which literary value or human wisdom can be preferred to the steady flow of information.’

He seems to be saying that the measure of ‘literary value’ is wisdom, a wisdom that can be learned and explored instead individually. A ‘steady flow’ of information he calls ‘tyranny’ – perhaps the tyranny of thought and feeling and judgment? Manipulation of the brute senses as opposed to engagement of the mind and heart? That certainly does seem like tyranny to me.

Harold Bloom.

Harold Bloom.

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