In The Theory of Education in the United States, Albert Jay Nock bemoaned “the colossal, the unconscionable, volume of garbage annually shot upon the public from the presses of the country, largely in the form of newspapers and periodicals.” His point was that a societal emphasis on literacy was by and large ineffectual if the material that most people read was stupid and unserious. Does one actually learn by reading the cant and carping insolence of the noisy commentariat?
“Surely everything depends on what he reads,” Nock said of the average person, “and upon the purpose that guides him in reading it.” What matters is not that one reads but what and how one reads.
I grew up in ‘50s, when television came into its own. I watched a lot of TV back then. Now, the only thing I watch on the tube is movies. I sure in hell don’t watch the news. I only glance over the newspaper I worked for and still, out of loyalty, subscribe to. The book I read last week — re-read actually — was short and first published in 1951: Russell Brain’s Mind, Science, and Perception.