Have you ever been honest with someone about what you're going through and they look at you so surprised and say "We couldn't tell." Or "I couldn't tell."? You feel so relieved that your brave face is working or that your spots aren't showing, but at the same time you feel a bit inauthentic. Not that you want to be an open book, shining a light on all your flaws, pains and secrets, but you wonder why am I covering everything up. The song "Put on a Happy Face," comes to mind. A great song in theory, but where's the limit to our fake smiles?
We seem to cover, cover, cover until our beautiful, original paint is so many layers below the surface we can't see what we started as. One day, there's too many layers and the only way to rid them is to strip them one by one until that authentic original coat of paint is there for all to see. Question is, do you start the layers again or do you add Killz or some kind of protective coat to help toughen you up to the wear and tear of life?
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Brain Is Wider Than the Sky
A Socratic Dialogue written by: Jennie Camile
Socrates: A human’s thinking and creativity is not limited to the life it knows and experiences. It
reaches and spans far greater than the limits of the material and tangible world.
Alekto: You mean to say that there are no limits to the ideas and thoughts our brain can
Socrates: Precisely. Take a story for instance. A fiction piece one writes, made up of characters
and set 3000 years into the future. As a human living in this time period of 2015, how would we
know what 5015 would look like? The author would have to create every technological advance.
Other details would need to be created as well, such as: what people might dress like, what they
would eat, what they would drive, etc. It would go far beyond the material world we live in now.
Alekto: Yes, but would one not look to the progression of the last 3000 years and use that
pattern as a point of reference for the future? Wouldn’t that use of pattern make your creativity
rooted in the material world?
Socrates: Points of reference are helpful to all creativity, but to create the future, one would have
to imagine beyond anything anyone has ever known. This kind of imagining far
surpasses our present day and time. Though points of reference are used, it doesn’t make the
creativity rooted in the here and now. Think of the inventor of the cellular phone. Would you say
that his invention is just an extension of the regular household phone? That the cellular phone is
rooted in the year 1876 because that is when the phone was invented?
Alekto: No, but it is the same type of invention. The cellular and household versions are still
Socrates: Yes, but the telephone is separate from the cellular phone just as the bicycle is
separate from the car. Both get you to your destination, but the mechanics of each are very
different. For someone to come up with each takes imagination that far surpassed what was
normal at that particular time.
Alekto: Point taken. So, then let’s talk about the characters of a story. Do you mean to tell me
that these characters would not have any attributes to people whom surround the author every
Socrates: Yes, they would be fictional characters who do not exist and so all of their attributes
would come from the mind’s eye. The author would create their hair color, their eye color, their
height and build. They would create where the characters come from, what their hobbies are and
what type of person they turn out to be, such as: a hero, a villain or a sideline sitter. Every bit of
the author’s imagination would come into play to create each and every character.
Alekto: So, the hero in their story would not have any familiar qualities of an everyday hero in
their life? Such as bravery, chivalry, strength or kindness?
Socrates: Of course they would. These qualities you speak of are timeless. The difference
between the people who surround the author day to day and the people in their story would be
the combination of attributes as well as possible traits that haven’t even been invented yet. The
author’s limitless mind could come up with a woman who reads through invisible eyes on the
back of her head. She could have the same color eyes as say the author’s Mother, but no one in
this world can read from the eyes in the back of their head.
Alekto: I agree. So, if one was to look at the works of artists like Picasso, Michelangelo, Monet
or Rembrandt, you would say that their creations came from a limitless mind? These painters and
sculptors were only mirroring what they saw here in the material world.
Socrates: Yes, I see where you are coming from, but don’t forget that painters and sculptors – all
artists – are interpreters. If you put their artwork next to the real thing, (the tangible items of this world) they would have differences and similarities. What the artist chooses to put in and leave out is all his own imagination and creativity working. His interpretation far surpasses what is right in front of him. His brain is in a realm of limitless possibilities.
Alekto: So, the inventor of the space shuttle had a brain of limitless possibilities because he saw
the moon as a place to travel to?
Socrates: Not only did he see the moon as a place to travel to, he created a way to get there. We
can say we want to travel to the deepest depths of the ocean, but the mind being wider than the
material world comes in when we deem it possible. Then, we create a vessel with the means of
getting us there. The brain becomes limitless when there is nothing we can’t do.
Alekto: I’ve always wanted to live in a house under the sea. My brain can prove to be wider than
this material world when I create my house under water. To my knowledge, no such home exists.
I could draw up plans for such a home and then work on ways to actually create such a place.
Plumbing, electrical and pressurized cabins would all be tricky, but I could create it and then it
would be real. This would be the only way to prove I had a limitless brain?
Socrates: Actually just the creating and planning would prove that your brain was limitless. One
does not have to follow through with the plans and make a tangible contribution to the world.
Ideas are born every day and sometimes they are never carried out. Just the ideas, inventions and
stories alone are enough to prove that the “brain is wider than the sky,” as Emily Dickinson
Alekto: So true.
Socrates: So you see, the limits of the material world have no hold on our imagination or
creativity. Do you have any further doubt that our minds can reach passed the material world
Alekto: I can gladly say, I do not.
Reading Will Always Endure
By: Jennie Camile
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one,”
George R.R. Martin. Nice quotation to begin with! Before the art of cinema and visual depictions
of stories, people entertained themselves by reading books. The reader would journey along with
the main character as he slayed dragons or sailed pirate ships. Books of a non-fiction variety
would showcase life for a person in a different part of the world. Reading was the only way to
understand what a different life from your own, might look like. Fast forward to 2015 and there
are many avenues of escaping or peeking into the life of someone on the other end of the globe.
All you have to do to see some culture or chat with someone on the other side of the ocean is to
log on to: YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. This idea that only “a reader lives a
thousand lives,” is a hard point to prove in the twenty-first century, but reading as a whole will
never be dead.
When you look at the decline of reading on paper, there is very little room for argument.
Andrew Ofstad, wrote in his essay America’s Decline in Literary Reading: Grappling with
Technology’s Effect on the Print Culture of Literature, “In June of 2004, the National
Endowment for the Arts released Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America…
The study revealed that only 46.7% of the American population reads works of literature, down
from 54% in 1992 and 56.9% in 1982.” Since the study was done in 2004, it is easy to assume if
the study were conducted again in present day, there would be an even greater decline. This
decline has been directly linked to technology. The distractions of visual stimulation that come
through the television or a computer screen are said to be the blame for people not picking up a
book. “Michael Dirda (a Pulitzer Prize–winning book critic for the Washington Post) regards the
web as largely an ‘invention of the devil.’ It is easy to see why many readers dislike technology,
since they usually believe it to be responsible for the decline in literary reading.” (Ofstad 4)
Dirda’s regard for the web as an evil invention is one sided because he’s only concerned with
how it has changed reading when on the other side of that argument; the Internet has also given
us access to an array of information.
With the closures of big chain bookstores like Borders, Waldenbooks and Crown Books,
the pro reading activist may feel a little defeated. I do miss wandering through bookstores and
finding books to read that I wouldn’t have known I should look for. Defeat is not the proper
word for what is presently happening in the literary world; Change is a much more appropriate
word. Christopher Farley, a writer for Speak Easy Online Magazine, points out the similarities
between this shift and that of the music industry when MP3s were rolled out to consumers. In his
article Borders Bankruptcy: Why Reading Isn’t Dead, Farley sides with consumers who
embraced purchasing individual songs. No longer did the consumer have to purchase an entire
album of songs that they weren’t guaranteed to like. “People hadn’t fallen out of love with music
– they just wanted it in other forms.” (Farley 2) The same goes for literature; the consumers are
embracing other forms. Audio books, IPads, Kindles and even cell phones give readers the
flexibility of downloading a book right when they want to read it. Instant gratification is the way
of our society and there is no exception when it comes to readers. Why get fully dressed, hop in
your car and drive across town to the library or bookstore when you can stay seated on your couch and download Anne of Avonlea in two minutes on your Kindle? Reading has changed, but
that in no way means that reading is a lost cause.
What has also changed is the way we receive information. We used to write each other
handwritten letters, grab a newspaper in the morning to read over a cup of coffee and when
someone passed away, it could’ve taken close to a week before the masses knew about it. Now
instead we send emails, turn on the News or turn on our computer for up to the minute obituaries.
“I’m not surprised that few people read newspapers or print magazines, many check in with
online news sources, aggregate sites, incessantly. They are seldom away from their screens for
long,” observes Sven Birkerts in the article titled Reading in a Digital Age. Screens have taken
over our world and whoever gets the news story out the fastest wins; or so it seems. “Information
comes to seem like an environment. If anything important happens anywhere, we will be
informed. The effect of this is to pull the world in close. Nothing penetrates, or punctures. The
real, which used to be defined by sensory immediacy, is redefined.” (Birkerts 1) Redefining what
is real can feel so very overwhelming at times. With so much at your fingertips, your ideas and
thoughts can get washed out. A quote that really captured what it means to live in this
information overload age was written by Will Self, a professor who wrote The Novel is Dead
(This Time It’s For Real) for The Guardian Magazine. He wrote: “the instant availability of
almost everything that has ever been done stifles creativity and makes a person feel hopeless.” I
immediately thought of someone who is sitting down to write a screenplay and every movie they
have ever seen comes flashing into their mind. It’s hard to rid the usual storylines in order to
write something new and different. The same can be said for the News. A newspaper which
takes time to print and be delivered cannot compete with the Internet; it will always fall behind.
There is no way to escape the trap of sounding like every other story out there when you’re all
getting the news at relatively the same time. Even if you had a competitive edge because the
story unfolded right near the newspaper offices, your exclusive could make its way to an online
source which could get distributed to all their viewers far before they sit down to their newspaper
the next morning. It’s not far-fetched to believe that everything in print is dead. Still, unless
you’re watching the news unfold on television, which most of us can’t do when at work or
school, you are reading. Each and every time you pull up an article about what the latest Taylor
Swift lyrics mean or what awful state the country of Nepal is in after the earthquake; you are
reading. It’s a part of our everyday life and that cannot be denied.
Even though reading is a part of day-to-day life, it can be argued that reading for
enlightenment or for pleasure is different than everyday reading of articles, work/school
materials, etc. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say that reading for pleasure is dead. That very well
may be true. According to an article entitled, Study: Reading Isn’t Dead for College Students
written by Ryan Lytle, the average student has a 50 hour work week when you include studying
and working. Most of the time they have left is spent outdoors doing something active since they
are cooped up inside focused on schoolwork all week. Still, college students aren’t the only ones
who don’t have time for reading. “Only seventeen percent of all elementary school children
(ages 6 to 17) surveyed, reported having time to read a book of their choice at school daily,”
noted Motoko Rich of The New York Times in his article Study Finds Reading to Children of All
Ages Grooms Them to Read More on Their Own. It would seem that schedules and other
curriculum is keeping our young people from taking part in the joy of reading. On the other
hand, “A study, which included responses from 717 college students, notes that 93 percent of
respondents enjoy reading for pleasure.” (Lytle 1) When elementary and middle school children
were asked if they enjoy reading for pleasure they all responded positively as well and had the
same feedback that schoolwork as well as extra-curricular activities were keeping them from
reading. (Rich 1) It may seem that reading is dying out for our young people, but the opposite is
actually true. The passion for reading is still alive, but their other activities are keeping them too
busy to sit down to a good book.
An overwhelming amount of choices has been said to be a factor in why people have
stopped reading. When you purchase your books digitally or purchase a hardcopy online, you
could spend hours scrolling through titles and summaries. Each book comes at you and entices
your interest, but then you see another book below and maybe that one is better? By the time
you’ve chosen a book, you’re too tired to read it. You’ve spent hours selecting it and the next
night when you go to read it before bed, you aren’t impressed. So what do you do? Start the
cycle all over again, scouring through more titles and before you know it, you’re snoring as you
drool on your Kindle. It was so much better when you would walk into a bookstore or the library
and displayed were about ten to fifteen titles that were either popular titles or best sellers. There
was always a section for employees to recommend their favorite books. This made the
experience feel personable and half of the work was done for you. The social aspect of buying a
book seems like a far off memory. Well, the good news is Barnes & Noble is still in business and
can be found in every major city. Wal-Mart, Target and even some grocery stores have book
sections. There are still quaint little Mom and Pop ran bookstores, if you look hard enough. The
biggest indicator that reading isn’t dead is that the library still exists. The Black Gold
Cooperative Network of libraries spans all the way up the Central Coast from Santa Barbara
County all the way through San Luis Obispo County. Not only can you get books from your
local library, but you may also request any title that is located at any of the other 33 branches.
The other great thing about a library is they display books of special interest in each section.
Whether it’s a new addition to the library or just a book they know is doing well on the Best
Seller’s list, the librarians are there to work on displays and show you which books you should
check out. “At the University of Florida, librarians have strategically placed books at the
entrance of libraries so that students can ‘walk by and see and be intrigued by things,’ says Judith
Russell, the Dean of University Libraries at the institution. ‘We see a fair bit of material selected
from those shelves,’ Russell acknowledges. ‘I imagine most of the picking off the new book
shelf is the serendipity factor of just walking by and something catching their eye.’” (Lytle 2)
Yes, you must leave the comfort of home to experience such a feeling, but having a book catch
your eye and holding it in your hand is what I believe will keep reading alive for years to come.
There is no doubt that the electronic book movement is a strong force to be reckoned with
and the key reason is convenience. However, when it comes to the beginning stages of reading
where parents read to their children, parents aren’t opting to read from digital devices. Instead,
Children’s Books are still profiting very well. According to Kristen McLean, Co-Chair of
Nielsen’s Children’s Book Summit and CEO of Bookigee, who wrote the article The Digital
World Report for Nielsen’s Children’s Books, “parents of kids 12 and younger were asked the
format of the last book they bought for their children. Ninety-six percent of parents of children
up to age 6 reported buying a print book, and 94% of parents of children 7-12 said they bought a
print book.” Starting a child off with tangible books that they have constant access to, can help
them integrate reading into their entire growing and learning processes. Even better is when the
parent continues reading to their children long after the children have learned to read for
themselves. “Reading aloud through elementary school seemed to be connected to a love of
reading generally. According to the report, 41 percent of frequent readers ages 6 to 10 were read
aloud to at home, while only 13 percent of infrequent readers were being read to.” (Rich 1) It all
starts at home and with the parents. If parents don’t read, children won’t read – it’s as simple as
Clearly, reading is a part of the human fiber. We read daily no matter what avenue of life
we travel down. I believe that the more endangered “species” are thinking for oneself as well as
truth. In an age where if you can’t remember the answer, you can Google it; your brain becomes
lazy. You no longer have to think for yourself, the answers are at your fingertips. All those
answers, but what if the same question leads to three answers. Which answer is the truth?
Anyone can put anything they want on the Internet and call it truth. The black and white aspects
of the world, become greyer as we rely on the Internet for information. While we’re asked the
question, “is reading dead?” We must read in order to seek out some sort of truth and thinking
for oneself, I myself believe that in no way is reading dead. The only evidence I really need is the
fact that you are reading this right now.
Rich, Motoko. "Study Finds Reading to Children of All Ages Grooms Them to Read More on
Their Own." The New York Times, 07 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 May 2015.
Farley, Christopher John. "Borders Bankruptcy: Why Reading Isn't Dead." Wall Street Journal.
Speakeasy, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 5 May 2015.
McLean, Kristen. "Attachment to Print - It's A Parenting Thing." Newswire: Media And
Entertainment. Nielsen, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 May 2015.
Lytle, Ryan. "Study: Reading Isn't Dead For College Students." US News. U.S. News & World
Report, 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 15 May 2015.
Ofstad, Andrew. "America’s Decline in Literary Reading: Grappling with Technology’s Effects
on the Print Culture of Literature." PDF. 15 May 2015.
Self, Will. "The Novel Is Dead (This Time It's For Real)." Books. The Guardian, 2 May 2014.
Web. 15 May 2015.
Birkerts, Sven. "Reading in a Digital Age." The American Scholar. Phi Beta Kappa, 1 Mar.
2010. Web. 19 May 2015.