Thursday, 30 July 2015

Books are (mostly) bad, but necessary

A sign of cultural decline is the fetichistic valorization of 'books' - as when people praise books as a class, or say that it is good when children read books.

But most books, especially most new books, are not just not-very-good but are very-bad-indeed - not merely in terms of being badly written, but by having bad topics, promoting bad attitudes, encouraging immorality and attacking virtue.

Take a look at the display window at your local new bookshop, or on an internet supplier - take a look at the best seller lists - books as a whole are pernicious, many are indeed evil. Books do a great deal of harm.

Yet books are also everything good, and all-but indispensable to our salvation in a public sphere that is so hostile to Good-ness - except that it is a small minority of books we are talking about mostly old books - and these are books that you will usually have to find for yourselves; because good-for-you books will only seldom (and unintentionally) be thrust at you in the same aggressive way that bad-for-you books are.

The good books are there, and they are easier to get at than ever before - but even the best of books does only half the job and the other half must be done by the reader. Perhaps the main danger to Good books is being taken lightly, gulped and swallowed so fast as hardly to be noticed - and never re-read.

If a book is worth reading, it is worth reading more than once. If you read and enjoy a book, but have no wish to re-read it, don't kid yourself: you are been dissipating your time. If you have never re-read a book then you might as well have been watching TV.

There are exceptions to this rule - some people remember after one reading - but even they cannot get much from a good book - a good book, a worthwhile book, has too much in it, to be assimilated by a single reading.