Lapeña Blogs - #3

I'm worried that last post was a bit negative. Let me emphasize that writing itself is FUN and very satisfying, at least for me. I feel really lucky that I get to indulge myself this way.

About reading: we don't do enough of it, as a society. I don't do enough of it, as an individual. It all boils down to not having enough leisure time. Marcuse was wrong: all this technology is making us busier than ever! For one thing, we have to Google ourselves all the time. Most people I know seem to have very little time, and there are many more things competing for our attention. I don't even watch TV (not much anyway. I liked Jpod but they canceled it. I wish they'd bring it back) and I still don't have the time to read all the books I'd love to read. I'd like to lie on a couch all day nibbling chocolates and reading all the Fiery First Fiction books, for a start.

I really admire what Yann Martel is doing, sending Stephen Harper a book every two weeks, for as long as he is Prime Minister of Canada. Martel has a point to make. Harper doesn't know how lucky he is to get all those great books free! Plus an intelligent, thought-provoking letter from Yann Martel.

For one thing, I think good fiction is about perspective. That's one reason why we read -- and write -- fiction. It's a way of trying to get perspective on things. In life we are mostly governed in everything we do by our own point of view, our own perspective on things. This is why wars happen, and why marriages fall apart. A lot of the problems in the world, and between individuals, occur because of this inability to understand another point of view. This is the value of very good literature‹it offers a perspective other than our own, and if it's well done, we can enter into that other point of view and understand it, if not agree with it. Reading good fiction
develops empathy and encourages open-mindedness, probably more effectively than reading a very well-reasoned argument could, because it operates on the level of emotion. How could anyone be mean to an animal after reading Black Beauty? So, everybody should read more! And that would bring about harmony and world peace. And increase book sales, which would be a good thing too.

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