Monday, 9 June 2014
This is an Essay written by Lance Morrow, Time, April the 29th. 1991. I have held on to it since reading it; would have been that weeks issue. It is a thoughtful and inspiring peace of work....
"We have rafts we cling to in bad weather - consolations, little solidarities, numbers we dial, people we wake up in the middle of the night." Somehow it is not much fun to wake up to the television set.... the medium is a micro wave.
Television news, when it flies in raw and ragged, can be lacerating. The medium destroys sequence. Reading restores to the mind a stabilization of linear prose, a bit of the architecture of thought. First one sentence, then another, building paragraphs, whole pages, chapters, books, until eventually something like an attention span returns and perhaps a steadier regard for cause and effect.
War (and television) shatters. Reading, thought reconstructs. The mind is reading is active, not passive - depressive.
Writers make universes. To enter that creation gives the reader some intellectual dignity and a higher sense of his possibilities. The dignity encourages relief and acceptance. I like writers who have struggles with a dark side and persevered. Samuel Johnson, for example; his distinction and his majestic sanity both achieved the hard way. Henry James/Grace Norton wrote, "Remember every life is a special problem which is not yours but anothers and content yourself with the terrible algebra of your own... We all live together, and those of us who love and know, live so most," he told her. "Even if we don't reach the sun, we shall have at least been up in a balloon."