Monday, March 30, 2020

"The Erosion of Deep Literacy", big essay by Adam Garfinkle


In the (I think conservative) periodical “National Affairs”, Adam Garfinkle offers an extensive essay “The Erosion of Deep Literacy”, which David Pakman called to everyone’s attention on Twitter this morning. 
   
He discusses the books “Reader Come Home” (2018, Harper) by Maryanne Wolf, and “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr.

He sees the awakening of “deep reading” as an accumulated skill, built by the culture, not necessarily hardwired into humans the way oral language is (as it may also be in dolphins). The literacy tradition taught in academics (your years of English in high school and college) led us through “awakenings” that would include, for example, the Civil Rights Movement. But the capacity for consistent abstract and critical thinking gets diluted by the “multi-tasking” required by today’s digital world and social media.  With “deep reading” goes “deep writing”.  This essay does remind me of John Fish. 
     
I see that with all the culture wars raging around the Internet. Even in my own blogs, I put material online that to some people that seems random, yet some people, because of the acculturation, may think they are supposed to do something about an item in an isolated post, as they are not aware of larger context in blogging, but are wired to react socially. That is something that has contributed to radicalization.

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