On being an ignoramus. Part 7 (One crazy artist’s take on reading books in the 21st century)
On being an ignoramus. Part 9 (One crazy artist’s take on reading books in the 21st century)

On being an ignoramus. Part 8 (One crazy artist’s take on reading books in the 21st century)

[ 3 min read ]

The thing is we’re super worried about people who don’t read. Or who don’t read “enough”. Or who don’t like to read.

Why are we so worried about them? Because it’s in our heads that people who want enlightenment, or better quality of their lives, or success in life, or want to become somebody in this world, absolutely need to read. A lot. Mostly books.

Why books? Because books are the best. That’s the most common conviction among the intelligentsia and those whose lives changed “because they read a lot of books” and who automatically assumed (because that’s what most of us always do) that it could not have happened in any other way.

If someone still have doubts whether I think it’s true (after having read my previous 7 posts in this series called “On being an ignoramus”) I explain that I think it is not true. It is a habit of mind which makes people believe it’s true. They’d been taught this. Just like they’d been taught most things.

Most of their convictions stem from what adults had put in their heads when they were children and youngsters. And the things they hear later, if they validate those theories, find fertile ground. It isn’t difficult to believe a life coach who says that without reading books you will be where you are your entire life, you will not progress to higher levels of awareness (or whatever they like to call it — the next stages, etc.), you will not find happiness or success, or you will not be fulfilled in your life, etc. Of course, they (those life coaches) also believe that’s true. Well, definitely most of them.

I’m of the opinion that a human being can go through life and never read another book after high school (and consequently not be able to participate in sophisticated, cultured discussions about the most revered authors of all times, about the books everyone should know / should have read at least once, or the current ones — discussions in which well-educated, enlightened people, the intelligentsia, talk about this stuff, what the authors wanted to say, etc., feeling the pride, their special status among people, which comes from having read Dostoyevsky, or Shakespeare, or Seneca, or knowing the theories of Jung or Freud) and still be just fine. Not be a miserable human being worthy of pity from those well-read (at least not feel that way — I mean, you can’t stop the well-read if they want to pity those who don’t know certain authors and their works, which they do in order to feel better about themselves again).

Again, what I mean is that there is an alternative in the 21st century. Movies, YouTube, documentaries, podcasts, blogs, places like Quora (the Internet in general). I can totally imagine a person who doesn’t read books (only takes advantage of the new tool — the Internet) and is just as “advanced” as a person who read a lot of books (mostly the “right” stuff), or even more “advanced”. Totally possible in this day and age.