Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

Mail to the New Yorker!

The highly qualified Maryanne Wolf writes a letter to the New Yorker.  I edit it slightly and place it here.

    Caleb Crain's superb essay on declining literacy, Twilight of the Books," could have been titled "Twilight of the Reading Brain." 

    To explain, I want to clarify two important points in his description of my book, "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain."  As it develops expertise, the circuitry for reading in the brain becomes "smaller" in its streamlined regions, and also "larger" - that is, more widely activated - in those regions engaged in sophisticated thinking, like inference, critical analysis, and insight.  This type of activation is the basis for "deep reading" and the highest form of thought in a society, from novel thinking to the deliberation of virtue.  My primary concern for the future of reading is that these critical areas will be short-circuited in the next generation of readers, whose formative years may be immersed too early in digitally driven media.  The addictive immediacy and overwhelming volume of information available in the "Googled world" of novice readers invite neither time for concentrated analysis and inference nor the motivation for them to think beyond all the information given. Despite its extraordinary contributions, the digital world may be the greatest threat yet to the endangered reading brain as it has developed over the past five thousand years.

Maryanne Wolf

It is odd to type in the above words as I do spend a great deal of time on-line and I love to google.  That said, I also read books in paper form, and I deal most often with words on line.  I watch the occasional video or youtube, but for the most part, I still gather information through reading.  Of course, I am a dinosaur in this new world, and that is okay with me.  I am the brontosaurus with the long, fluid neck.  I like to nip the tops of trees and wade in swamps.

I google and learn that my beloved brontosaurus, meaning thunder lizard,  is now called apatosaurus, which means deceptive lizard.  In this case, I vote for the past.  Thunder Lizard,  I am.   


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