People who know me know I like to read. A lot. I think my eyeballs actually get stir-crazy if they aren’t allowed to scan large strings of left-to-right letter combinations on a regular basis. These combinations do not have to make complete sense, mind you, as evidenced by the fact that I will (and regularly do) read right-wing blather. I’ve almost always got a novel within arm’s reach lest I find myself using an unexpected slot of free time coming up with sardonic replies to the over-asked question, “What’s up?” I am absolutely incapable of heeding the call of nature if there are no magazines present. I have read the back of every cereal box in existence. If an unabridged dictionary is the only book available, I’ll devour it like a box of chocolates, savoring each and every two-dollar word as if it were the finest confection, the syllables crunching like fat Macadamias in my mouth. Mmmmmmm, scrumptious grandiloquence!
The need to read is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I remain in close touch with pop culture and world affairs. On the other hand, well, I remain in close touch with pop culture and world affairs. I love reading about stuff like 3D images of animals in the womb, intrepid children’s books, and random parking lot sightings of Cthulhu’s minions. Sadly, finding such delightful nuggets requires wading through a bunch of doctrinaire he said / she said and the chunks of regurgitated tripe we were force-fed months ago.
But I keep at it. I read the insights of the intelligent and articulate so that I remain informed, but I also read the words of the ignorant and smartly sarcastic so that I’m in the know with regard to how the other side is thinking. Of course, it’s imperative to keep facts always at the forefront so as not to fall for any old propaganda slung my way.
And herein lies the problem in the US today. Americans are getting more and more complacent (though they incorrectly perceive this as a lack of enough hours in the day) and are thus unwilling to adequately challenge anything if doing so seems even moderately involved. More often than not, they choose to believe whatever is simplest and most convenient. Everyday, I see otherwise thoughtful people resign themselves to some ‘truth’ simply because they lack the motivation to educate themselves. I recommend books to people all the time and I receive the reply, "Oh, I don't read books," more often than I care to entertain. This is as frightening as it is disappointing.
So this is my official cry out against the wave of anti-intellectualism currently sweeping over my country. The only way to beat it is to start a literary epidemic. I congratulate every single person reading this for doing more for your brain than the average American – not because my words are particularly profound, but because you took the time to read them, whether you agreed with them or not. I implore you to read voraciously and to pore over everything you can fit into your schedule, not just the things that seem agreeable and satisfying. Further, I ask that you share my passion and do what you can to persuade others to follow your academic lead. Together, we can silence the stupid.
Educate yourself. Read. Because the eventual results of rampant anti-intellectualism can end up far more devastating than you think. But do be sincere; reading Camus won’t enlighten you unless it’s actually enlightenment you seek.
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”