“They were not, with few exceptions, readers — never had been; that they had always occupied themselves with music, TV, and videos; they had difficulty slowing down enough to concentrate on prose of any density.”
Literary critic Sven Birkerts tells a story about his experience teaching an undergraduate course on short stories in 1994.
He tried to solicit opinions on the story he’d selected, but came up short. “My students could barely muster the energy for a thumbs-up or -down,” he writes. “It was as though some pneumatic pump had sucked out the last dregs of their spirits.”
That was 1994. Imagine 2020.
“For in fact, our entire collective subjective history — the soul of our societal body, is encoded in print. Is encoded, and has for countless generations been passed along by way of the word, mainly through books.”
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