Followers of plinyblog.com (bless their magnanimous hearts) have been regular recipients of our many lamentations concerning the recent success of the populist movement in America. We have often made reference to the formulaic advice of Thomas Jefferson, that an informed and literate society is essential to the success of a democracy; and observed of late, that the absence of the same has manifested itself in the present disastrous and embarrassing state of affairs in Washington.
We have consistently posited, as the indicated antidote for the presenting malady, the active encouragement of reading good literature. We will express a specific basis for our sincere belief in this “page turner,” for fear that our general prescription may seem remote, idealistically theoretical, or essentially impractical. We are necessarily confident that the “low information” and “flat earth” portion of our population, can be persuaded that this is their way to a more enhanced and satisfying life.
When we speak of “good literature,” we have reference to writing having excellence in form, and expressive of ideas of universal and eternal interest. We will go so far as to state that good literature is importantly related to man’s life on earth, in the same ratio as science bears to the earth’s nature.
Reading is the process of interpreting symbols to ascertain their meaning and is an effective and useful means of sharing information and ideas. The interaction between the printed word and the reader will naturally be colored by the extent of the reader’s knowledge, his past experiences, and his cultural context. Low information people would deposit the words they read, their observations and vicarious experiences into their existing base of knowledge, such as it may be. The effort required to read good literature, for everyone, gets easier with practice; suitable means for its promotion must be construed.
Should such a (national) program be sensibly and realistically instituted, the individual participant would eventually come to personally realize a fuller and more enhanced life experience and the nation would benefit from the improvement in the quality of its participating citizenry. Needed motivation, especially at first, might be accomplished by tying government financial assistance to required attendance at tutoring sessions; we predict that the program would be attractive to service oriented volunteer tutors.
Reading has been proven to stimulate brain activity and growth. Regular reading has been scientifically linked to cognitive advancement, most especially for adolescents, but continuing into old age.
One discovers that the most exciting and pleasurable feature of reading books is that there is absolutely no restriction, but instead, allows the reader to manufacture his own personal images, introspectively, affording the full exploitation of one’s personal interpretation.
The increase of “Jefferson qualified” citizens would be a real page turner in restoring our historic trademark and brand, as an admired and exemplary nation.