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READING – A DYING CULTURE.

posted Sep 11, 2012, 1:28 PM by Udhim Subba
My apologies to everybody for I intend to take a quick precious seven minutes from your busy schedule to talk about a lesser important deemed matter as reading. I am not here to tutor you about the benefits of reading…I am just being mindful about the dying culture of reading in general.

I too dislike reading.

[Surprised? You must think that I must be nuts to state such comments in this scholarly gathering. Please allow me to explain:

Like many of you, I find reading a nuisance and a waste of time when there are lots of better things to do in life like earning money, going for a date, attend school or work in office, play soccer, do errands, meet a deadline, watch TV…name them. Who would want to spend long lonely hours reading a novel locked up in a room?

 Blame it on to the great idiot box called ‘television’ and other electronic gadgets like computers, cell phones, iPods etc. It is indeed a sad fact that reading today is a dying culture in this fast- paced technologically advanced and mechanically sick world. Children today are too busy engaged with computer games and television, while adults are glued on to their computer screen, amassing the wealth of knowledge through Internet search engines.

Research says that internet culture has enhanced reading through electronic media. I do admit its undeniable benefits of harnessing stocks of information in a click of a button. In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the most effective. How do you weigh between the information you retrieve from your desktop sitting in a posh chair in an office and a little boy in a remote hamlet reading a book in candlelight? Where is the value embedded in ‘copy-paste’ and writing it in a journal in your handwriting?  When you step into a library you enter like a treasure hunter unlocking the gates of Solomon’s mine. When you select a book you are looking for a friend, a soul mate who spends some private moments in the silence of your loneliness. Nothing substitutes reading a good book. The feeling is unparallel.

The biggest difference between reading a book and watching a movie is the scope to unleash your own creativity. In movies, the concept is conceived by the writer and director and presented before you in a specific form. On the other hand, when you read a book the writer not only conceives the concept of the book, but you are also given ample freedom to unleash your creative thinking and power of imagination. Perhaps for this very reason Stephen king, the king of horror and science fiction writer, opted to be a novelist over a movie script writer. According to Stephen King, he says that when you are a writer, you are the director, producer, and the protagonist.

I feel that reading a book should be regarded as encounter with other phenomena of life or thought. All encounters are configurate, not isolate. In this sense, and in this sense only, books are as much a part of life as trees, stars, career, work or dung. When you read a poem, you understand about life.

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

Professor Keating (Robin Williams) in 'Dead Poet's Society'

Reading is like travelling into a journey-unknown as the mystery of life unfolds as Sydney Sheldon, the best seller author aptly puts, “…you never know until you turn the last page.”  Reading is knowing the unknown, rediscovering what is already discovered, and heightening your imagination to perceive what is unwritten. Whatever little I know, most of it are what life has taught me and largely from what I have read about them.

I admit earnestly that I have been reading less and indulging more in paranoid activities as I am myself a victim caught in the web of technology. I may sound like a hypocrite like a preacher who doesn’t practice what he preaches, but often today, in spite of ‘the busy schedule’ amidst the dins and bustles of life, I try to squeeze and find some quite time with a book in my hands. These are some rare moments as the dust settles down as I withdraw from the rat race of this absurd lifestyle. These are indeed rare moments when my restless soul finds a space to repose. My rusty spirit resurrects to re-live, discover and dream.

I take back my words and rephrase it: I love reading.

 Thank you for your precious seven minutes.

 Norbu Lama, YMSS, 2012.

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