Jeff Cooper on TV and Literacy

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Malum Prohibitum, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Various observers view our general decline of literacy with alarm. To us it seems that the reasons for this sort of thing are quite obvious. The reason no one reads is television. In homes where television affords "instant babysitter" for children and instant conversation for adults, there is no need to learn the pleasure that may be experienced by the exploration of our culture. Television provides a substitute for original thought. This in turn obscures the delights of learning, and this takes much of the fun out of life. Learning is the one pleasure in which there can be no satiety. Anything else you like to do will become tiresome if practiced too much. (Perhaps you do not think so, but if you ever have the opportunity to try it you will find out.) In my youth, back in the period between the great wars, reading for pleasure was very widely experienced. That is what people did in the living room after dinner, and every member of the family could choose his own delights. Hemingway, before television, habitually packed a "book bag" with him in the field. During the noon pit stop, there was a choice of two or three volumes to enjoy. Onboard the ocean liners there was a 10 o'clock reading session on the boat deck. Do you know of anyone today who will sit down and pick up a volume which does not have any utilitarian or self-aggrandizement purpose? By reading you can improve your language skills, and your language skills enable you to take advantage of our wonderful English language. I am not instructed in comparative linguistics, but I am told by people who are that the English language is the most explicit of any in use. In English you can say exactly what you mean, which is certainly not true of other tongues we know about. When my work is translated from English into German, for example, it usually takes more space - sometimes as much as three times as much space - to make the same point. When I was teaching through Chinese interpreters, it was pretty obvious that getting a given point across was a major undertaking.

    The point is that as our level of literacy decays, our culture decays, and with television in the saddle, this is not going to change. By all means try to turn your children into intellectuals. This is the greatest gift you can give them, but do not expect too much as long as that tube is playing.

    January 2006 Commentaries
     
  2. thebugman

    thebugman New Member

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    Could I get the Cliff Notes on this Article? I'm too busy watching TV to read it all. :D
     

  3. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    At the risk of being labelled a heretic for disagreeing with Jeff Cooper, I disagree with Jeff Cooper. TV is no more responsible for a decline in literacy than guns are responsible for the crime rate. The bumper sticker could read, "TV's don't make people ignorant, people do."
     
  4. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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