This is an excerpt from the 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman. Read it. Drink it in. It's not simple, it's not easy, but it strikes a chord not often struck in these days of sound-byte media.
A written sentence calls upon its author to say something, upon its reader to know the import of what is said. And when an author and reader are struggling with semantic meaning, they are engaged in the most serious challenge to the intellect. This is especially the case with the act of reading, for authors are not always trustworthy. They lie, they become confused, they overgeneralize, they abuse logic and, sometimes, common sense. The reader must come armed, in a serious state of intellectual readiness. This is not easy because he comes to the text alone. In reading, one's responses are isolated, one's intellect thrown back on its own resources. To be confronted by the cold abstractions of printed sentences is to look upon language bare, without the assistance of either beauty or community. Thus, reading is by its nature a serious business. It is also, of course, an essentially rational activity.
Untitled, a photo by db Photography | Demi-Brooke on Flickr.