Life: The power of the book and the power of memory

“If bookishness were just a niche pastime, like stamp collecting or waveboarding, none of this would really matter. But it’s more than that. It is the collective memory and accumulated wisdom of our species.

The rough-and-ready intellectual consensus of the mid-Twentieth Century is being pushed out by a New Superstition whose victims can find testimony on the Internet for anything they choose to believe. The only cure for it is reading books, and lots of them. When all things bookish are edited out of public discourse, strange things happen, or seem to. When our societal attention span becomes shorter than the lifetime of a steel bridge over a river, what appears to be a solid strip of highway can suddenly fall out from under us. Like a portent from the medieval world.”

—Neal Stephenson, from Some Remarks; see also “Twilight of the Books.”

That being said, I don’t think the Internet is only for “New Superstition,” and some of the “intellectual consensus” was and is wrong. Knowledge that people post and read on the Internet is neither right nor wrong, superstitious nor factual.

One response

  1. Pingback: The Death of the Novel and Ryan Holiday’s “Trust Me, I’m Lying” | The Story's Story

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