Mr. Reader

Credit: Genji Arakaki, https://flic.kr/p/hsfmnz

“Ah yes, but if you’re like me, Mr. Reader, it doesn’t,” said a young Grey Owl, tilting his head from side to side.

Mr. Reader, an older, wiser and much larger Grey Owl, crossed his wings and puffed his pipe, “Who?”

The younger Owl perked up, “In fact, if you’re like me, it goes against every bone and fiber in your body. What comes natural is watching sports, scrolling through stats, swiping left or right on potential mates, you know, Netflix & Chill, that sort of thing.”

The large Grey Owl ‘s eyes widened, and he shot back, “Who?”

“Oh, please. Get with the times, Mr. Reader! Me! Me! Me!”

Mr. Reader sighed. “Perhaps…perhaps you’re right. Oh, but we must remember, little Owl, reading…reading…. if that’s what we want to call it, does not come naturally to anyone. It is a time consuming crack of dawn effort that cuts deep into our potential! Reading demands we bring our whole selves, all of us, even those parts we never knew existed…it engages those very parts of us that we want left untouched, unchanged, unchallenged!”

The young Owl’s face drooped, “Argh! Reading! Reading is hard work. Who has time for that, Mr. Reader? Tell me! Tell me!” Then the students in the classroom all began shouting, “Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!”

The old Owl, remembering his audience, lifted his pipe and savored the fine flavor of tobacco it offered him. He leaned back, “Who? Who? Who?”

* * *

Reading online can be difficult. In fact, reading online is not really reading; not thoughtful reading at least. The distractions of click bait technology, not to mention the wide variety of excuses to read, well, bullshit, have made it even tougher. All reading online is an easily accessible alternative to engaging with literature – which is difficult – because it requires me to re-wire my rapidly aging brain from reading click bait to decoding complex prose. But once my brain has been re-wired and trained to handle complex reading, it enables me to either ignore the click bait or think critically about what kinds of messages are being communicated online.

Until then, taking the time to sit down with a novel, play or magazine is perhaps the most exhilarating activity I have. And much like shooting basketballs through a hoop or doing the cha-cha-cha at my cousin’s wedding, it is a skill that can help me navigate life. I need to make time for it.

In Geez 42, Reading to Transgress, we can learn how others engage with popular platforms of entertainment and social media while still connecting to the issues and agendas that are vital to ensuring that we flourish as people who are socially conscious and socially active. In Reading to Transgress, we can learn how to deconstruct the hegemonic discourses that prevail in our culture of capitalist dominance by engaging thoughtfully not only in literature, but also being critical of the messages that click bait technology perpetuates. It is important to read so that our brain learns how to navigate through the bombardment of messages that we encounter online and elsewhere. Such discernment is crucial because we need to be critical of how messages can be oppressive to different groups of people and because identifying those messages enables us to speak out against them. Please, take the time to read, it is so important.

Written by Geez Editorial Assistant’s Owen Perkins and Allison Zacharias

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