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Yesterday's Learned Man & Today's Less Educated
One well entrenched prejudice says that people do not read nowadays as much as they used to. This is factually untrue and irrelevant for what the statement really aims at: to prove an irreversible intellectual decline.
However, there are other things we should be concerned about.
When referring to times past by, one takes out of the equation the fact that the novel is a recent genre in the history of arts and culture, or that only some 150 years ago print became cheap enough to give access to books wider strata of the population.
Also out of the equation is taken the fact that printed materials şother than novelsţ and television have a potential to teach us more about history, geography, religion and other topics.
It is true that reading poetry and novels are not up on the to-do-list of modern people.
But who decreed that fiction should have priority over other genres, and that this is the way to find out more about the world? Well, the people in the literary world, obviously.
The real problems is not people reading less fiction, but too much, and of the lesser quality. Too much fiction material is published world-wide and whoever is not up-to-date with the market of novels "translated in 40 languages" is not guilty of being a lesser intellectual.
While those that do stay up-to-date with this market are not refined intellectual but consumers depending on their regular intake of fiction just like any other junkie.
One has to reassess the relation one holds with fiction stories, and their ability to turn one into a learned person.
Taking a trip abroad may be as instructive as putting oneself to university, as direct contact with other cultures may turn into such a transformative experience.
So much so, that today's not-so-well-read person may turn out to have learned more about life and its meaning than the learned person of yester years.
And the hiding of the young generation behind the computer screens, which aggravates the parents, is not so much different than their grandparents' hiding in the barn, with a book to read.
Today's generations do not read less. They read differently. They have targeted reading.
So, we should reconsider some of our assessments, but stick with the one still valid: whatever the means, what we should not stop do is learning.