Literature – a question of benefits
Literature – a question of benefits
If someone were to decide to conduct a survey with regards to the question “Do you like literature?” it is likely that the average person will answer “No”.
True: People read books, review references and criticism, even learn about them in school and yet literature is sometimes perceived as uninteresting and pretty much unnecessary.
Maybe that is the problem.
In literature there are times when the secondary gets center stage: questions that were designed to clarify an intricate idea can seem complex, awkward and even redundant. The presentation of artistic expression as the core instead of the understanding of how, and mainly why, things are represented the way they are, might dissipate the beauty of the story in the eyes of the reader.
Literature is not a science. The study of literature indeed has theoretical aspects, but unlike other studies, literature lacks mathematical computations – it requires a different approach. There is no need for cross-statistical calculations or probability evaluations to receive a conclusive result. To understand literature one must comprehend the creative structure, the use of words, terms, implications and writing techniques. This could sound tricky and rather tedious if it was not for one simple detail: this entire operation is achieved simply by reading the book.
There is no need to delve into the structural layout of the story, or to conduct a psychological analysis of the author’s “true intentions”.
It is all right there.
You just have to read it.
In that sense, literature is more like playing detective than accurate science: we already have the result right in front of us.
There is no need to find it, only to find out what it means.
Let’s take public libraries for example: their greatest advantage is the fact that intensive advertising does not exist on their premises. Indeed, libraries can create a section for the “recommended” or “new publications” and they often have a reading list, but still: the majority of the books are nicely arranged on shelves, one next to the other. In book stores, especially those run by the owners of big publication houses, a book can receive a very short “shelf life”, after which it is sent, not very respectably, to book cemeteries – i.e. immense warehouses. Indeed, unlike other cemeteries, these warehouses are not the final destination: when it is time to get rid of superfluous inventory, these forsaken novels are the first to go.
Public libraries do not follow this rule.
They do not treat books as fashionable commodities.
They “understand” that a good book wins the test of time, not the test of the publication expediency benefit.
Public libraries are the proof that a good book lasts forever.
They will always have someone to recommend and explain, without biased deliberation or burdensome explanations.
Therefore, public libraries, which are open to all and discriminate to no one, are the place where literature can truly manifest.
Public libraries honor literature.
Naturally, books should also be profitable for the entire battery of people producing them (editors, proof readers, graphic designers, publishers, etc.).
At the same time, literature should be accessible to everyone, even to those who do not think it is necessary.
If only we could think about books as fun, praiseworthy and a pleasurable.
The best medicine is a very simple one: read.
Reading is necessary precisely because it should be one of the few things one should feel compelled to do.
“Necessity” can be construed as a daunting, almost violent compulsion. On the other hand, it can be considered as positive – something one needs or should not live without.
Academia should not be detached from the real world. Academic research influences human lives. Education can cure disease and distress.
Literary studies are not detached from the real world.
Literature is written for us. Academia should make this fact as influential in our lives as in any other discipline.
Indeed, reading is not an activity that solely belongs to Academia. Everyone, at any age and from every social standing, has access to stories. There is no term or criterion to define “the correct reader”. We are all correct readers. We can become great readers if we always aspire to “more” instead of “less”.
The desire to understand a story is as every bit important as the reading of it, because understanding brings a meaningful contribution of knowledge, insight and enjoyment.
However, foremost is the story.
When the story is good – the rest will follow.
Many famous and important artists in theater and films spend a fortune on human resources, ideas and attempts to bring the audience in, to make people to listen, react and enjoy. Many famous and important artists succeed because the audience relates to what the artists have to say.
If art can do this, why cannot literature?
If a story is a story, why cannot one enjoy it when it is written?
Like it or not – this is a world of reading and writing: we are surrounded with words. Almost every new technological development is based on new possibilities to share alphabetic insights. Yet, even short posts need to be well written.
How can one express oneself well if one is never exposed to accurate language? Among all the training and professional enrichment that one learns in our busy lives, should we not include learning of proper expression?
This is doubly so in the matter of literature.
Art in general and literature in particular do not exclusively belong to one specific group. They are not included in the social scale that measures the education of each individual. They have nothing to do with income, occupation, sector, sex or other preferences. Art is accessible to everyone. Even one who cannot afford a work of art of $40,000 can still admire paintings in a museum or a reproduction that can be downloaded to the screensaver. One who cannot or does not wish to hold an extensive library can read all the books he so desires in the public library.
The problem begins when one starts treating art as something detached, isolated and social class orientated, as if only the educated or privileged can afford to read books in their spare time.
Pretension in art and literature is pointless.
Art is not a matter of boasting. Art is a something to be excited about. Its beauty touches the heart and soul of the observer, the reader or the listener.
Not everyone studies physics and yet physical forces continue to operate our world.
Not everyone is a medical student and yet the human body functions according to our anatomy.
Not everyone takes the time to think about biology and yet flowers continue to bloom and birds to sing.
However, if no one reads, the world that reading unlocks – the world of culture and emotions – this world will slowly stop existing.
Why miss out when there is so much to gain?