Archive for the ‘CBC Ideas’ Category

Arrowleaf Balsamroot blooming on a Chilcotin hillside, near Riske Creek, B.C., May 23, 2020

Hello my fellow readers.

This morning I fell for “click bait” while checking the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) news, as I do first thing every morning when I fire the computer up for our connection with the rest of the world.

Here’s what I fell for: Think Books Make You Smart? Think Again.

And it’s not what you might think from that teasing title. It’s a brief synopsis of an hour-long ‘Ideas’ segment, and it’s an absolute delight.

For example:

Fran Liebowitz: I didn’t see myself in books when I was child, but it didn’t occur to me that you were supposed to. And I hate to say this because I know she’s the most beloved person on the planet Earth. But truthfully, Oprah Winfrey taught people to read this way. The great thing about Oprah Winfrey with her reading was that she got thousands and thousands and thousands of Americans to read books who never read a book before. She made it important to lots of people to whom it was never important. That’s very good.

But the way in which she read or talked about books is, I think, a very bad way. I would never think when reading [Herman] Melville to look for Fran, it would not occur to me. I’m pretty sure Fran’s not in there. And that wouldn’t be why I would read it.


John Carey: An argument for reading…is not that it’s superior to other arts, but is different in that it deals in language ⁠— language without pictures encourages you to use your imagination. Language on the page is just a series of marks, ink marks. And yet what you have to do and what you do without thinking when you read a novel is transport yourself imaginatively to another place.

You imagine what the characters are like, what they looked like. And you can test the fact that you do that by when you watch a film made based on a book you’ve read. You think, at least I think, they got it all wrong. That’s not the way that I imagined the characters.

The fact that reading stimulates the imagination seems to me very important — stimulates the imagination in a way which visual art does not. Visual art belongs to a much older part of the brain, of course, than language, which is quite a recent part of the brain. And visual art is enormously powerful. The temptation just to sort of watch pictures and not read is very strong. 

So, yeah, I think imagination — trying to find a way into someone else’s situation, imagining it, imagining how their motives work. That, I think is something that the novel in particular since the 19th century, has cultivated. 

If you have an hour free – and I suspect that you might, in this pandemic limbo time – give the linked radio program a listen. You will find much to provoke thought, and it will make you, as a reader, smile and nod.

Happy Sunday. Enjoy!

Hazy sun and sundog over the Chilcotin Plateau, near Riske Creek, B.C., May 23, 2020


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