Literacy Revisited

I don’t know if that ended up being a literacy article or a literacy test.:)

That’s the impression I get from some of the responses I get.

When I read a scorched-earth flame, I get this mental image of someone semi-skimming, seeing some phrase that flips a hot switch, going “AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!” in angergasm, then writing me in the throes of that passion. From this end, half the time I get one of those, I actually said the opposite
of what the person thought I said.

It’s like real-life Emily Litella.

If you want to flame me, fine, but if you think I said something worth flaming about, please take a deep breath and then make sure I actually said that horrible terrible thing. It’s really hard to point out in a non-embarrassing way that you missed the boat. So do us both a favor.

I spoke a bit about some novels being superceded by visual media, and got one letter from one person who apparently thought I wanted to ban literacy and go back to grunting.

A number of you apparently thought I was saying that science fiction and adventure stories weren’t popular when I said the opposite, though in this particular case, I looked back at the article and saw what I think was confusing people. I’ve clarified that point.

I have news for some of you, though. “Literary people” will slit their wrists before calling Tom Clancy or science fiction novels “literature,” and for some good reason. They may well be good stories, but they’re not literature, or even terribly well-written most of the time.

The problem is the “literary people” are more likely than not writing books about their mental hemorrhoids, not something the typical young man wants to read.

It pretty much boils down to the good storytellers can’t write, and the good writers can’t tell stories.

Some of you thought movies were but a pale reflection of the books from which they had come. I quite agree with that, so much so that I said that in the article. 🙂

I spoke briefly about a possible time when technology might make literacy optional, and some had real problems with that.

It’s too early to know whether or not such technology is even possible, we just don’t know enough about the human brain, but at the rate we’re going, in about fifty years, we’ll probably know if its doable or not.

But if it is possible, and it proves more efficient than reading, it will be used, and reading as we know it will go the way of the dodo. Maybe you’ll still need to be able to read a stop sign, but if you could get a college education in a four-hour download rather than a four-year stay someplace, guess what’s going to happen?

Finally, one person asked why the hell Americans care about what Prince Charles says or does, and in the broad sense of the question, I don’t have an answer. Why do we?

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