Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Is Reading Just a Hobby?
I'm now an avid reader of the Blogs. Reason? Because I also write. Before, I did surf through some sites but not with 150% interest as I do now because I need to know what the other Bloggers are thinking and talking about.
Now that would tell us something about why Malaysians do not, in general, do much reading besides the usual glance at and read-snatches of newspapers, magazine, fliers and shopping catalogues. Not the heftier stuff like novels, book of general knowldge and in specific areas of studies like economics, politics, science, sociology, psychology, philosophy, religion etc, etc. Some survey on the reading habits of Malaysians reported some time ago showed that Malaysians on average read less than two books a year. Some, hardly one book! I see it in my own house, where there are many books left unread except for a few pages!( Not the one I bought, of course).
The reason is they don't have to read in order to write anything, or give a lecture or a talk to some people be they students, clients or bosses. You don't lecture to friends but just blabber and brag or 'lepak' with them. No facts or figures or precious state-of- the-art knowledge required. You can just bluff your way through with anecdotes, jokes and other juicier run-of-the-mill reports and RUMOURS. The wilder and juicier they are the better. Make them laugh their guts out, and they'll be very happy with you. Talk about anything serious, quoting books, learned magazines and journals, the Bibble, the al-Quran, the Mahabratha etc. etc., and they'll stare at you as if you're from the zoo or Tanjung Rambutan. They'll call you a wierdo, an ignoramus trying to appear like an Einstein, or just a perverted "squirt".
People don't read because they don't have to in order to give responsible advice, views or opinions, to people who matter and who are inrtelligent enough to discriminate between wisdom and wisecracks, between Excalibur and excrement...
Yes, you only read for examinations, interviews, and official talks or presentations in the pursuance of your career. You don't read for the love of information and knowledge, for your own education, edification, ego-satisfaction and for fun. Some consider it as just a hobby like swimming, cycling, mountain climbing, girls-watching etc.etc.A hobby is something that you do during your spare time, not something that you do in your primetime, to become a major part of your life and working hours, especially when you're alone. Oh, yes. People do read official reports, piles amd piles of them, in carrying out their work. I don't call that soul-enriching reads.... not all of them anyway.
Oh yes...some people don't even like to be alone for it makes them feel so lonely. No avid reader will say such a thing for "they're never less alone than when they're alone". ( I forgot the author of that quote!) They always carry a novel or some good reading stuff, even when they go for holidays. They'll need something to read by the poolside or on the beach, thereby making the frequent gorgling and leering at the "cheesecakes" or "beefcakes" passing by less obvious.
You can't force yourself to read especially heavy stuff like a two-inch novel or a hard-cover text. You have to like them as you'd a pretty face with deep mysterious smiles and inviting looks. That is why the Government campaign to encourage Malaysians to read doesn't seem to be very effective. The avid readers need no campaign while the non-readers have have many other hobbies to attend to and reading is not one of them, nor is it a must chore like eating, drinking, rushing to bed or the toilet and...you know!
Maybe we should encourage them to become bloggers. Let them pour out their minds and pent up feelings, frustrations and all, and in trying to understand and put them into words, the'll need to read and consult the dictionary sometimes. They'll need to understand themselves, their feelings and idiocyncrasies. Once they find that reading sharpens their focus, deepens their understanding of things and makes their minds puff and whistle with ideas, you don't have to ask them to read. They'll
have to read like they have to eat and drink or feel their heads going empty.....
The novels can give them life experience (2nd hand of course) which they can never dream of experiencing. You can't dream of anything you don't know about and even if you do you won;t know what you dreamt about, would you? Books on specific area of knowledge and interest will open your horizon beyond classsrooms and lecture theatres. The website can of course give you all the tasty morsels from the experiential wisdom of bloggers - including the funny, the weird and the profound.
Intelligence has to do with making sense of what you see, hear and experience, even when things contradict and negate each other. The more sense you can make out of the nonsense ( or what doesn't make sense at first and does not appear to be rubbish) the sharper is your intelligence. Reading helps you to do this and will certainly make you a better blogger with sharper insight and a wider purview. If the best way to learn is to teach, the best way to read is to write!
So bloggers, keep writing and reading. You out there who read sometimes but don't write, try some writing and you'll find that you have to read. Otherwise your nogggins will go dry or your blog will not "fly".