Last month, Beth DeMeo, our long-time chair of the ENG/COM Department at Alvernia University shared with us this article from The New York Times:
This is a great article. So eloquent, focused and, well, dire, as regards the perceived importance of reading literature these days. So, here's my crack at response to this crisis.
There is no explaining the value of literature to them's that asks, "What's the value of literature?"
Capitalism has always skewed and dictated what things are worth. (Their perceived value.) That’s the shriveled ‘Big Picture.’
"Sympathy/Empathy?" What's that worth? What's it gonna mean to me? What's it gonna pay?
The culture capitalism has most recently spawned (social media) (for all it’s ‘reading’ and writing’) has devalued the notion of 'reading a book' completely.
In 2009, I argued against this situation as per:
I still can't think of a more persuasive apologia, or argument for, the value of reading books than that. Don’t settle for being a ‘fish in your own bowl.’
Reading books as an intelligent and awake Earthling is one very effective way of decreasing the ‘sympathy/empathy gap’ we suffer so badly, so definitely, now more than ever.
Wake up! Read a book. Broaden your mind. See what’s going on in your brother/sister’s world.
Be a better (more effective) Earthling on account of it.
Dr. Tom Bierowski
Associate Professor of Literature
PS – I know that there are young people out there who still value reading books. There’s a place for you here at A.U. and in ‘the real world’ beyond. Because you’re only gonna be as big and essential moving forward as your capacity for sympathy/empathy enables you to be. You readers are where that rejuvenation and healing’s going to start. Period.