Monday, October 20, 2008

Books Are Our Friends

Once upon a time back in the day, I was in day care. It was private, back in the days before government got involved and turned it into the modern statist incarnation that more resembles the
Young Soviets. In fact, it was a lady somewhat older than my own mother, who took on the supervision of 3-5 children of pre-school age to allow their mothers to work, in return for some modest sum.

During one randomly recollected day, probably when JFK was still president, I was found peeling the ill-applied plastic covering off of a children's story book (in fairness, I was doing it to tidy up the cover, not vandalize it, but when you're 3 or so, you aren't that glib with adults).

My matron du jour solemnly informed me that I oughtn't do that. There was no physical punishment involved, and no loud, angry words, but I was told in no uncertain terms in such a way that I felt more like a troglodyte than if I had been led in chains in front of a colloseum of witnesses under stadium lights and derided over the p.a. system.

The final thought imparted to me in this little lecture was seared so brilliantly into my consciousness that I can still remember the exact words to this day nearly half a century later.

"Books are our friends."

I learned that lesson so well that aside from 8 years of higher education, I have a personal library that encompasses - nay, overflows - 50-plus feet of ceiling height shelving, spills over the edges, stacks itself up on any stray flat surface after any brief interval, and still probably sees me spending more on books than groceries in a given month.

I am, in fact, a book-a-holic, and if the disease doesn't exist, they would have to invent it to describe me adequately.

Were there even one worthy of the name, I'd read a newspaper or three, but I also devour magazines with equal fervor, in a Renaissance-man sort of eclecticism that defies description. I read a book or more a week, usually with anywhere from 2-7 laying about half-read. And I'm talking about real books, not some collection of slapdash junk novellas by authors of dubious talent and enamored of prurient subject matter.

I bring this up for the benefit of those who foolishly think that print is dead, or were so bereft of educational opportunities that they regard self-enlightenment and discovery as a chore, rather than one of the profoundest joys of modern mankind's existence.

We are endowed by our Creator with 3 pounds of jelloish grey matter, which has given us the ability to comprehend greater subjects in an afternoon than all of mankind was able to grasp in millenia of earnest thought. To piddle that ability away for a lifetime on reruns of Oprah and The Badminton Channel would be tantamount to setting your head on fire just to watch it burn.

As long as you have functional eyes and the barest abilities of comprehension of your mother tongue (or these days, even the chance to pop a CD book-on-audio into the stereo) you can avail yourself of people deeper, wittier, funnier, cleverer, and altogether more profitable for your personal development, not to mention more fun and enjoyable in one afternoon than you would receive spending years trapped with the combined wisdom of the peurile word-vomitting refugees from most Hollywood screenwriter's academies combined.

In short, ladies and gentlemen, read.

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