Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Required Reading"

If I were King of The World I would decree that the American people read two, not tomorrow.  The two tomes are "Future Shock" and "The Third Wave", both by Alvin Toffler.

Toffler is recognized throughout the world as our most distinguished and prominent "futurist".  In "Future Shock" and, later, with "The Third Wave", Toffler is able to explain, in clear and simple terms, the effect that rapid technological change has on both personal and societal psyches.  In doing so he enables us, gives us a "center", so that we can attempt to cope with these whirlwind changes.

I once handed over to my daughter a little pamphlet, sponsored by the Library of Congress, and authored by one of my favorite writers.  The pamphlet was titled "Reading For Survival".  This little missal presents what happens to people who either won't or can't read.  The author likens illiteracy to stumbling around in the dark, hobbled by the inability to clearly see what the world is "really" all about.  Illiteracy confines one to a narrow ideology that keeps them perpetually confused, and in their confusion, they tend to grasp onto the wackiest notions that might be handy at the moment.  The book's message was so profound that I insisted on quizzing my daughter to make sure she got the gist of that so important message.  By the way, here's an excerpt from 'Reading for Survival':

"The nonreader in our culture wants to believe. He is the one born every minute. The world is so vastly confusing and baffling to him that he feels there has to be some simple answer to everything that troubles him. And so, out of pure emptiness, he will eagerly embrace spiritualism, yoga, a banana diet, or some callous frippery like Dianetics..."
"Here in America, as elsewhere, there will always be tremulous little people of dim intellect and hyperactive imagination, burning for explanations to all life's vicissitudes. They grow impatient with learned analyses of the present. They are defeated by histories that illuminate the past. No species of scholarship or analysis could ever satisfy them; for they need that Wondrous Explanation that will quiet all their fears, thrill them with villains to revile, and never tax their feeble powers of intellection."

Toffler broadens the scope of the "reading" mission.  He outlines by example all of the technological tsunamis that confront all of us each year.  He defines the extreme stress that we humans endure as we navigate our way through a life constantly battered by the upheaval of violent change and a life soaring by at supersonic speeds, speeds so pronounced that it often leaves us unable to cope with it!

 I've written about this subject before in an earlier blog.  I was fortunate to have discovered Toffler's "Future Shock" when first issued in the late 60's.  The book is as relevant today as it was then, and even more remarkable in that we can now look back on Toffler's "then futurist" assertions and see in hindsight how accurate were his predictions.  "The Third Wave" is equally effective in invigorating our "coping mechanisms" because it deals with the post Industrial Age we now occupy.  For example, a careful reading of "The Third Wave" will show you how silly it is for a politician to bemoan the concept of "outsourcing" jobs.  In this edition you will learn how technology puts you in the employ of nearly every American corporation....and for no pay at that!

These two books are not meant to be read with your feet up, television blaring in the background, as you munch on your Cheetos.  No, you need to be sitting at the kitchen table, feet planted firmly on the floor, maybe even a note pad at hand to record the principles you'll need to remember as you steer your life into the headwinds of frightful life changes.

How much more frightening can life be when you "haven't a clue".  Folks, these two books will "give you a clue".


Jerry Carlin said...

I actually like your book recommendations but this one is making me feel like an old man! Not that any kind of truth ever goes out of date but, of course, I read these books in their 1st printing. I am that old! I often agree with the things you say and find cause to pause at the way you say them. There are books that should be read and reread so I will dig this one out and blow of the dust and open it again!
Any kind of truth about anything always comes from an agenda. You read something and you should stop and think, what is this really about? I am suspicious of books and articles that appeal to emotion, whether that be the "poor children" or the "bad President" and always find books interesting that attempt to explain how deep in this hole we are and how we got here and propose various methods of digging our way out.
Thanks for the book review!

A Modest Scribler said...

Jerry, I've seen ignorance from both sides of the political spectrum; right wingers who see Jewish conspiracies, secret cults that rule the world, etc.

On the left are socialists, communists, folks that will demonize anyone who wants to make a profit...but, to me, those who are most "lost in the dark" are these liberal zombies that can't add 2 +2...they always come out with 5. And they blindly follow failing policy after failing policy...loyal to a failing ideology despite all proof to the contrary. Good luck with the re-reads...I found it fun to read something I read over 40 years ago..

Craig Bailey said...

I will check these books out. For me reading has always been a love hate relationship, if I like a book I will read it non-stop, if it didn't spark any interest nothing could get me to read it.As a student grades be damned, as a husband no amount of nagging would change it.Will let you know how these reads go.Have a Great Day.