Today I would like to say a little something about a few friends that are very near and dear to me. They have gotten me through some of the worst times in my life and have been constant companions through the best. There are only around 20 or so that I call my closest friends, but there are so many more out there that I can hardly begin to imagine the scope.
I am, of course, talking about books.
As I it says above, there are only a few that I hold closest to my heart. I own more than 200 all told, but only a those select few I have read so many times I have either had to buy new copies or stitch them back together with tape and care.
What really worries me, however, is how few people share my passion these days.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for television, movies, the internet and most other forms of visual stimulation that predominate these days. Lately, I can’t seem to stop watching “Sons of Anarchy.”
However, all of this visual stimulation is more numbing on the mind than informative. Maybe I pick up a few tidbits of information here and there, but overall, when I watch something on a screen I just get numb.
When I read a book, it sweeps me up into the action while giving my brain a chance to imagine the specifics and create my own reality around the story. I am not provided with the exactness that other sources provide.
When I read through the Harry Potter books for the first time I had in my mind images for each of the characters. They were vibrant, real, and just as much my own as they were J.K. Rowling’s.
When the movies were released, I had a chance to see what someone else’s vision contained and I could compare and contrast. For example, I thought Alan Rickman was almost exactly how I had pictured Snape throughout the books. On the other hand, my image of Hermione Granger was significantly different and for the first few movies I had trouble getting past her new quirks. In fact, I found out I had been pronouncing her name wrong the entire time.
Now I have had a chance to re-read the books and I find that my imagination often fits the movie characters into place where once was my own interpretation. This is disconcerting, but I suppose an inevitable reaction to the amount of stimuli in our world.
What truly worries me is when I try and have a conversation with someone else and ask them to describe someone to me from their imagination and I get nothing. The most basic descriptions are all I receive from anyone I talk to; tall, nice, hot. I find I haven’t held a meaningful conversation about a work of fiction in years and it troubles me.
What has happened to the appreciation of literature around Chenango County? Are generations becoming less and less intelligent? Or is it simply a natural shift from one form of media to another?
Personally, I don’t believe books have come even close to the end of their time. No matter what, though, I know I’ll always keep my friends close.
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