29 August 2018

[Perrin Lovett] - Entering Into the Age of Post Literacy (Like Unto Illiteracy, But Lazier)

This Monday, August 27th, the mighty Vox Day explained why he retired his former weekly column. He stopped because, in brief, his contributions - as great as they were - made no difference in the grand scheme of things. His admission came in response to a recent Fred Reed article, in which Fred pondered why anyone writes columns anymore. What a way to start a column, huh?

Thanks for bearing with me so far. I was struggling with a subject matter appropriate for (worthy of) today’s discussion. There’s so darned much going on all the time! And I try very hard to find the best, most interesting, and more important topics to cover. Even now, as I’m stream-of-consciousness-ing this thing together, I’m still fighting to cobble the pieces. But, there is a reason why I mention the foregoing - a seemingly futile reason:

People Aren’t Reading Anymore!

No, no, no, no. That “people” reference obviously does not include my beloved, enlightened, and better-smelling-than-most audience here. But, in general, it is a growing problem.

A recent study found that among today’s high schoolers, only two percent read the daily news and a third haven’t read anything in the past year. Staggering. A silver lining is that fewer teens are watching pre-programmed nonsense via movies and traditional television. But they still stare at screens all day, jumping from one app to the next in a frantic effort to communicate something trivial to someone largely unknown. A mass of media, a dearth of intellectual understanding. Sadly, it’s not just the kids.

They call this new bookless thing the “postliterate society.” I think I shall refrain from membership therein. But I’ve used the term “postliterate” myself from time to time, perhaps without really understanding what it is or how it truly affects the culture.

Hook the book in the nook. Picture from Medium.

In the brave new world, some say that reading and writing is no longer a necessity. We’re led to believe that many know how to read, they just don’t want to read. Per Bruce Powe: “the literate sensibility no longer occupies a central position in culture, society, and politics.” I hesitate to agree, but I think that is us in a nutshell … maybe an accurate description of the literary lives of the under-40 generations.

Ironically, Fahrenheit 451 is noted as a fictional postliterate society. If no one reads the books, what’s the point in burning them? Ah well, at least we’ve got the mechanical hound.

Education professionals have noticed the ramifications. Says Connecticut high school history teacher Christopher Doyle:

Books, long idealized as foundational shapers of intellect, no longer mold young people's minds. While continuing to tout their merits, educators marginalize books and have not come to grips with the book's declining role in society. Over the last few years, my high school students' facility for print culture has atrophied markedly. They also exhibit cognitive blind spots for narratives and higher meanings. Their educations even contribute to post-literacy.

Post-literate schooling does isolate students from narrative structures conveying meaning. It also juvenilizes via technologies that oversimplify and denigrate analysis. Such tools contribute to overwhelm and disconnect: Kids drown in data bereft of higher logic.

[Double Emphasis, mine].

Those unable to critically process or synthesize the information “drown in data bereft of higher logic.” As I said, “A mass of media, a dearth of intellectual understanding.” Otherwise capable minds atrophy as one lesson after another passes unobserved right before the eyes. Those not capable of grasping the obvious are much more susceptible to the various maladies of greater society. They fail to recognize patterns in reality. One could easily use this as a partial explanation for falling IQ’s, rising BMI’s, drunkenness and drug addiction, rising debts, falling longevity, declining health, collapsing morals, political superstitions, economic ignorance, the trading of freedom for security, and even the emulation of hideous “celebrity.”

Even when concepts are semi-understood, there’s often a lack of appreciation for concomitant context. Worse, some are just smart enough to attempt to derail the thought train for everyone else. Here - I get to work in another topic - please see the example of “Saint Gamma” and his misplaced (and incorrect) comments on last week’s TPC column (about number six, as added by me from Facebook).

Last week I made the twin points that Christianity is under attack and that child molestation is bad. I also warned against Facebook participation via my endnote. Sooooooo, the Right Rev. Just-Bright-Enough-to-be-a-Nuisance chimed in, on Facebook!, with concocted nonsense, demonstrably false and 100% off topic. He ignored what I wrote, planted his own fantastic ideas which render just about everyone other than himself a heretic, and then failed to offer any solution to the fake problem of his own creation. His addition was useless outside of helping me make a point, here, and giving me something to rebut, there. Thanks, Bub...

In fairness, I did a modicum of research on the man. He seems harmless, well-meaning even. But he has a very limited and biased grasp of his own chosen field of expertise. Bereft of higher logic (in this case about Higher Logic), he embraces cognitive blindness to deftly dodge the narrative. Based on my own observations of late, casual and professional, I think he’s in the majority now. But,

We Can Fix It! Here’s How:

  • Read! Everything. Reverse the curse. Read books, newspapers, and the back of the cereal box. Skim words in languages you don’t even know.

  • Aside from however you peruse TPC, lay off the screens. Someone else will crush the candy.

  • Consider (strongly) at least a partial boycott of TeeVee and the Mooo-vies. By and large, they both jumped the shark a long time ago. And went back and did it again. And then started beating the poor fish. It’s a stinking mess…

  • Read some more. Seek out things in which you previously had no interest. Look for ideas and opinions contrary to your own. Challenge yourself.

  • Exercise. Pump iron. Run. Walk. Move. Physical exertion (and healthy eating) not only improves the body, it also stimulates the mind.

  • So stimulated, start thinking hard about everything you read and, especially, everything you see and hear outside the written word. Learn to run a little critical analysis on everything. If nothing else, it makes life more fun.

  • Finally, whatever else you do, please remember to always check in with TPC at least once per day. Twice a day is even better.

Seriously. Don’t let MB down.

That’s it for today, for this week. A preview of possible topics for next week (to which I am not bound in the slightest): there’s an election coming (I can smell it); someday soon we may all find out what happens when there is too much debt; or too much migration; a new Tolkien book (yes, a new Tolkien book) is due imminently; there’s a new cigar in the making, and, of course; there’s always the threat of another short fictional story. Or something.

*Another Facebook Note: Your author has fled the Zuckerberg plantation. While not expecting anyone else to join me in freedom, I do ask that cogent comments to these articles be directed here, via the cute little comment button due south. In theory, I suppose one could still comment on FB: “If a reader comments on Facebook and Perrin isn’t around to read it, will Zuck and the Trust Brigade still ban it?” I may never know...

Fellow Terry College of Business (UGA) grad Brother Perrin Lovett is a true renaissance gentleman & scholar. A recovering attorney, he's into guns & cigars, and the US Constitution. A published authorPrepper columnist & YouTube personality, and an acclaimed blogger, TPC is very proud to have our old friend on board as the C.F. Floyd Feature Writer of National Affairs