Literature and Stupidity

Mundane day and so far not so. Managed to whelm the indisposition enough this morning to motor to Scant City to gym for a truncated session. Mixed bag. Different set of aches and pains. Didn’t try to contend with the weight bouncers. The podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about coping with aging via literature was both boring and alienating. Simply put, it was boring because it lacked any substance, being at best superficial and unrevealing.

The alienating part was more personal. All of the literature mentioned is uninteresting to me. My tastes in literature are fairly constant, if not stationary. Have been since I was an undergraduate. Naturally I read a lot of nerd books, that is, books on nerdish topics rather than books written by nerds (or journalists) about nerdery. The former are usually called technical, the latter I call stercus. More on that later. 

When I was traveling a lot for the Yankee army of occupation I read a lot of what I call ‘airplane trash”, mostly bad science fiction (which is usually too short on the former and too long on the latter.) As the quality of SF deteriorated I added selected mystery novels, notably those by English and ethnic authors. About half of my reading still falls into these genres.

Since retirement my attention span has been freed up from worrying about the bureaucracy of preserving the nation so I have added a great deal of non-fiction to my reading, mostly history and analysis. Also a wider range of periodicals. More “news” magazines. 

But nothing of the sort of thing described in the podcast. No popular literature. No self-help polemics. Poorly written, worse cited, and reeking of untrustworthiness. So far from the general trend of the diminishing population of readers.

Which brings me to a discussion on the FaceScroll yesterday by one of my colleagues Magnetic Inductance Force. The question, a very good one, was why do the bogs not want to know about science? The general thesis was that they are unable to handle the transiency, the aspect of continual change in the search of understanding. Never mind that denying the change is discarding any hope of understanding; that seems irrelevant to the bogs. Rather it seems they are unable to handle anything more than facts, even when those facts are imaginary, illusory, or transitory. 

In a sense, this is the very essence of being biologic. All animals “pin” themselves in the now. We root ourselves in the moment. But we humans are supposed to have the capacity to recall the past and imagine the future. Doesn’t that require an embodiment of change? Is there something about the majority of humans, perhaps an increasing fraction, that cannot do so? Are we evolving away from intelligence? In the now there seems a reasonable case supporting that conjecture.

I hope that this is an artifact of contemporaneity, that we are not really becoming asentient and aintelligent. But if so, I am glad I am senior and won’t see it destroy us.

Advertisements