Suggested by Janet:
I’ve seen this quotation in several places lately. It’s from Sven Birkerts’ ‘The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age’:
“To read, when one does so of one’s own free will, is to make a volitional statement, to cast a vote; it is to posit an elsewhere and set off toward it. And like any traveling, reading is at once a movement and a comment of sorts about the place one has left. To open a book voluntarily is at some level to remark the insufficiency either of one’s life or one’s orientation toward it.”
To what extent does this describe you?
My first thought was “huh?” So it isn’t the most elegant of thoughts, but I honestly had no idea what Sven is trying to say. Truthfully, I still don’t. It sounds to me like someone was trying to make himself sound
pretentious intelligent by throwing together big words combined with a significant overuse of punctuation.
If I interpret this correctly, Sven is stating that someone who reads voluntarily only reads to escape. Really? Isn’t that discarding so many other reasons to read? What about learning about history or other cultures or other people? Let’s take this even further – what does Sven think of textbooks. Students do not have to read them, so when they do, is that considered voluntary reading? Are they reading to escape their lives too?
I apologize in advance to anyone who loves this quote, but I personally do not buy it. There are so many reasons to read. Sven is trying to make it seem like bibliophiles are anti-social losers who live vicariously through their books. As a bibliophile, I take offense at this idea. This quote decidedly does not describe me.
Am I interpreting this incorrectly? Am I being too harsh? Let me know what you think!
var linkwithin_site_id = 125794;