March 9, 2014

Reading and Thinking

This much-cited thought on Twitter

put me in mind of these thoughts from Ezra Pound's ABC of Reading.

If a nation’s literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays.

Your legislators can’t legislate for the public good, your commander can’t command, your populace (if you be a democratic country) can’t instruct it’s ‘representatives’ save by language.

(I'm more than a little shy about citing anyone because I read Maria Konikova's Don’t Quote Me on This at The New York Times this morning. Remembering Emerson, she writes

Emerson didn’t hate quotation, not really. What he hated was our impulse to shortcut actual thought. The Internet didn’t create that impulse, but it has made it far more tempting and easier to satisfy.

and cites Neil Postman (in "Amusing Ourselves to Death" to explain the dangers of quotation)

Neil Postman, the author of “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” called this phenomenon “telegraphic discourse.” After the telegraph emerged, “ ‘knowing’ the facts took on a new meaning,” he wrote, “for it did not imply that one understood implications, background, or connections. Telegraphic discourse permitted no time for historical perspectives and gave no priority to the qualitative.”