Against Reading

There’s an old article in the New Yorker in which Caleb Crain takes a good look at the difference between readers and non-readers:

A bit long on the history of reading, but the middle gets pretty interesting.

A provocatively-titled follow-up discussing the alternatives to reading is Marshall Poe’s “Death to the Reading Class” in the Fortnightly Review:

Quite curious, the way the minds of those non-readers work…

I’m not familiar with the Caleb Crain piece, but will read it later tonight. However, Marshall Poe is not a non-reader. He is very much a reader and a writer. His proposition, in “Death to the reading class,” is not an alternative to reading, but what he believes will be the logical (and perhaps necessary) successor to reading.

It’s disheartening for an old-line writer to consider that audio/video presentations (utube, let us say) will eventually supplant books as we know them, but the sheer magnitude of mind-stupefying anecdotal evidence suggests he is onto something.

One extension of his idea – he does not mention it, that I’ve seen – is that a certain amount of writing and reading is at the core of most audio/video presentations. Literate folk may become the custodians of the species’ lore and wisdom – much like priests of old.

Do we evolve backward? I do not know. Perhaps the answer lies in how we compare Mark Zukerberg to Michel de Montaigne.