Zombies. That’s what readers are. They exist in this world but live in a fantasy world, surviving on what others create. Their contribution to society is negative, for while they consume precious resources, they create nothing.
The roadside vagabond does more, yet they claim intellectual superiority over all. But if intelligence is the application of information, they’re down there with those other shells of human existence, the TV-addicts, collecting data about everything, but not alive enough to ever apply that knowledge.
That’s probably why they are called bookworms — a parasitical existence, far removed from the ecstasy and agony of the real world.
Decades ago, the only entertainment was reading. If kids were hunched over a book, adults would know they weren’t setting the house on fire or getting into fights. If you wanted to kill a few hours, or expand your mind a little, the only option was hitting the nearest library.
While times have changed, attitudes haven’t — received wisdom dictates that the reading habit is good for us. While there are so many entertainment options, which engage all the senses and encourage a person to connect with people worldwide, the lonely man’s need for a book is anachronistic.
There’s no place anymore for people who’re lost in their own world. As for education and information, it’s more efficient to trawl the Web than lift a 500-page tome.
While the rest of the world is climbing the Everests of their chosen professions or feeding penguins in Antarctica, the reader slouches in his ratty couch, oblivious to love and conflict, the purple sky on a rainy day and the fireflies that light it up at night. Passive consumers, they bovinely chew on ideas that someone else is busy translating into reality.
Despite their vast knowledge, these antiquated creatures are blind to the difference between serenading your Juliet from under the famous balcony in Verona, and reading about how Romeo did it many years ago. When you sit down to a book, you raise a wall around yourself.
Every minute you spend reading, another brick is added to that wall, till it becomes so high, it’s impossible to get over it. And as the world does one more turn on its axis, you turn the page of your cheap paperback, without even realising that life has just passed you by. How miserable it must be to sit down to read, when you haven’t stood up to live?
Courtesy: TOI 2 Nov 2007, 0003 hrs IST,Vaishnavi Murali