What Literature is Absent?
“The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation.”
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Reading as a leisure activity has seemed to take a backseat behind such things as text messaging, e-mailing, playing video games, etc. Is this because the activity itself requires a focus that few nowadays are capable of giving? Or is it more likely that current literature does not carry any appeal to us? Of course, there are some great reads available. But I can’t really put my finger on any defining works within the past decade or so not having to do with entertainment.
Is literature a lost cause?
@optimystic, Chuck Palahniuk, Margaret Atwood, John Bannville, to name but a few contemporary authors who I personally rate with others such as graham green, Dickens and melville. Not only for their story telling but for their social commentary and exploration of the human condition. It is easier to see the greats that have gone before because they are the ones that stick.
@optimystic, Despair, hopelessness, Love and comment on various elements of society. Like Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, it explores the dangers of image driven culture and how our current social constructs might effect us in the future. Of course anyone can explore the human condition, butthen again anyone can write a book, it doesn’t mean they have done it well or subtlely or with any skill at all. All art is the exploration of the human condition. What do you want from literature?
@optimystic, the collective works of Arthur Conan-Doyle’s, Sherlock Holmes. Is fantastic, not just for he story lines, also as an insight to how language has changed over the centuries.
The thing we as a society are missing is the compunction to pick up a book and read it.
@optimystic, Also, what about the “Art of Happiness” novels with words from the Dalai Lama?
Fahrenheit 451? Brave New World? 1854? House of the Scorpion? Poisonwood Bible? Heart of Darkness?
Good god there are so many contemporary/modern writers that had a tremendous thing to say, especially social commentary and the human condition.
Not to mention poets Allen Ginsburg, T.S. Eliot, E.E. Cummings, etc
You need an imagination to appreciate literature.
Honestly, people would rather not have to think when enjoying themselves. You can tell this is the case because everyone gets fucking sloshed every weekend. Don’t gotta think when you do that, in fact it is frowned upon.
On a different side though, movies sometimes do pretty amazing things that I don’t believe my imagination could have pulled off, even if I was reading the story in a book- but a movie cannot show me the in depth character development and imagery I get from a book.
Plus, its the digital age- our writing has no binding. It’s bound to be erased.
@optimystic, It doesn’t really matter either way does it? They have it. That is what is important.
I think there will always be a place for literature. Sure it has declined but that is because there are so many places to get entertainment now. But people looking for more than entertainment will always read.
Reading for entertainment simply doesn’t put out as much stimulus or response that the other forms of entertainment do. Our minds our changing as the world evolves and so the idea of reading written text and using that alone seems outdated and boring to many. I don’t really believe it has much to do with the quality of written works, as that is subjective anyway.
This reminds of the other day when I was trying to help my sister with her homework. She had to read Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Ushers,” and fill out a a couple worksheets pertaining to it.
I was excited when she asked for help because I personally loved reading and interpreting literature in class. But, she became upset when I was trying to help find the answer. She didn’t like me explaining the answers. Her exact words were, “Just tell me the answer, I don’t care what it means.”
To put it frankly, I was disappointed. I remember doing assignments and being so stubborn about getting them done on my own because I wanted to understand…she just wanted the grade…
Which, to be honest, makes sense. She’s maintaining a decent GPA so–in the school’s eyes–she’s a good student. And when she just has to copy off other students, why do more? GPA is an issue when grades get in the way of learning.
This isn’t entirely on topic, haha, but I know many of her friends are the same way: they don’t read for understanding… It’s sad.
@kidd, “Education is meant to aid pursuits, not replace them.”
I can sympathize with everything you have reflected upon. I feel as if statistics and other tangible ‘entities’ are replacing the arts and the abstract. Now that’s not bad, per se, (seems to be natural as technology progresses *sigh*) but dangerous. Efficiency is NOT effectiveness. But then again, what is either?
@hollowinfinity, Yeah dude, more and more I’m realizing that people just wanna have “fun” all of the time. Humans do their “stupid work,” proceed to indulge in “entertainment,” and then go to bed, only to repeat the pattern the next day, week, month, and year. Sometimes they’ll be blessed with tragedy to wake them from this cycle.
Perhaps this is a cold view, but to me at least, the concept of having fun all the time and continuously being entertained is overrated as fuck. Pleasure is transient. It doesn’t last. That’s not to mean that it’s worthless and shouldn’t be enjoyed every now and then, but motherfuckers indulge like I said, and then things like dedication and perseverance become unfamiliar to them, and then people become dependent on others and then shit starts to hit the fan.
“There is nothing more fearful than imagination without taste.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe