Does the printed word still have power?

Mar 13, 2016 by

We live in a world of pictures and memes.

Devin Foley –

Myles Connelly seems to have understood the future when he published Mr. Blue in 1926. In it, he reflects:

“No printed word shall wring the new masses as did the printed words in the past. They have not time for the printed word. The day when a pamphlet distributed at a street corner could start a revolution or a new religion is over. The printed word is too common to be any longer compelling and too slow to be any longer dynamic. If you want to reach the masses you can reach them through pictures. These new children can be bent and molded as they sit in the dark enrapt before the magic of the mobile screen. There, in the dark, they can be lifted out of their daily servitude. There, they can be raised high above their stone-and-steel environment. There, they can be brought to the high places and shown the deeps beyond the hard horizon. There, they can be taught to be superior to the great magnificent monsters that are their creations. There, they can be taught to love this terrible new civilization, because they can be taught to look upon it as their child and not as their master.”

 And here we are still writing.

Sadly, though, the data out there supports Connelly. The printed word is powerless in the face of pictures. As we’ve reported before:

  • 14% of adults can’t read.
  • Only 13% of adults can read at a proficient level.
  • 28% of adults didn’t read a book in the last year.
  • 50% of adults can’t read a book written at an 8th grade level.

Meanwhile we spend a lot of time watching videos:

The printed word still has the power to move some people and to change lives, but that may no longer be the case for the public at large. What that means for the future of ideas, society, culture, and overall human progress, we don’t know.

Source: Does the printed word still have power? | Intellectual Takeout

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1 Comment

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    As long as they keep testing and testing and test-prepping kids in the schools, education will continue to take the “soul” and life out of words. Words, reading-and-visualizing words, interpreting meaning, reading-between-the-lines, and connecting real-life experiences only serve the function of “scoring high.” After a while most children add up in their minds that words mean “tests,” and who wants to deal with anxiety–translated, “no fun”–all the time? Or, what about asking them to read their brains out with outrageously long reading lists, as if you’re trying to make them love reading by pounding it–words–into their heads. Where is that coming from? And yes, reading is slow, compared to looking at pictures, and that becomes another issue in a high-speed electro-techno world, because who wants to slow down, and dig a little deeper inside your self, your reading and creative self? There still is a little magic left in reading, but who wants to talk about it, there’s no test score for that…

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