Why Literature Still Matters
What's the point of literature in the digital age? To preserve ancient memories on rotting paper? Nick Lewis summed up a broadly held view:
Blogs are ephemeral like our thoughts: an uncivilized, pristine wilderness as far as literary mediums are concerned. Then again, a civilized literary medium is probably nothing more than a bunch of professors convincing themselves that they are not lost in the wilderness. Or maybe that's just me projecting how I felt while listening to lectures in literature 1.
That says a lot about the failure of professors to inspire their students about why literature has always been a route to the human heart.
Literature still has the power to disrupt, to inspire, to soothe.
See, I believe in literature and in writing. In all kinds of writing on many subjects from novels to architecture, from poetry to cultural criticism. Beyond mere entertainment, literature, achieved through writing, can still be subversive, can still seduce, and undermine. When words move beyond simplistic entertainment, they deal with ideas and themes that exist across time. Literature brings us to think about concepts that no longer appear in any discourse and are not so present in the dynamic digital world: life, death, loss, dignity, excellence, paradox, respect, irony, civility, altruism, all the varieties of tragedy, and joy too. Also, good literature provides the pleasure of words. Just as bloggers get immense pleasure in putting their words together, so does the literary writer. The language and syntax may be different, but underneath the satisfaction is not so different. Unfortunately, people often need to be taught to appreciate and understand the pleasure words. It is the learning process that creates consciousness about the pleasure of words and ideas.