Reading and Respectability

This entry is part 2 of 10 in the series Social Resistance

If you have to limit your reading to what is considered respectable, you might as well physically remove your brain and personally hand it to whoever’s making those respectability rules 1. Because that’s kind of what you’re doing already. And while you’re at it, have the Rulemaker come over to your house and pick out your clothes and thoughts, too.

Read Japanese. Read whatever the heck you want. The dumber the better. The brainier the better. The normaler the better. The only limits on reading should be time and interest. Not common sense, and definitely not respectability.  Invite anyone who takes exception to that to perform incestuous acts with the nearest family member at a tertiary location. How? Just keep reading.

You only get to live a few thousand days. Almost everyone in the world — even in less economically developed countries — will, in a lifetime, have more dollars than days. Think about that. You wouldn’t throw your precious dollars at people you don’t even know or like (you’d throw them at me, right?). But you’ll throw them your days? Irreplaceable, irrecoverable days? Just like that? You won’t even give strangers money to gamble with or buy drugs with or play at the video arcade with, but you’ll give them your time? Are you crazy?

If we amputate our own freedom to read, then we effectively amputate our freedom to think. And if we have no freedom to think, then, sweetie, we have nothing. Like I said, cut out your brain and give it to the Rulemaker. In fact, just kill yourself. If the rules have been decided already, then it really doesn’t matter whether you’re here or not.

Think for a moment why, in the United States of only 55,000 days ago, it was illegal for most African-Americans to read, be taught to read, or even know how to read.

Why would anyone go to the trouble of so drastically limiting another human being’s reading material [f(r)=0] if it weren’t perhaps one of the most precious things in the world?

And what do we call a person who would do that? We’d call them a slavemaster.

Anyone who tells you not to read any type of book is trying to be your slavemaster. Don’t let them. Don’t be a slave. Get off the mental plantation. Read whatever you want. There is no point in doing otherwise. There is no point in living otherwise: someone else is living for you; someone else has lived for you; it’s game mother fondling over 2.

Whoever has veto power over your reading list does not decide the content of your mind — she owns your mind. Whoever owns your mind, owns you. Will you be a hip slave foreman (“look at me, I’m hip among slaves!”), or will you be free, doing what you want, when you want? Choices, choices. I hear there’s complementary room and board over at the plantation…

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Notes:

  1. Often, there is no actual, single person exercising overarching power to make these rules. Which should tell you something right there.
  2. I love this…this is even grosser than the original phrase 😛 … I love it when bowdlerization succeeds!

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  15 comments for “Reading and Respectability

  1. Eric
    September 26, 2010 at 00:42

    Can I apply this philosophy to the music I listen to, too? Please? Okay, thanks, because my friends apparently think that listening to too much German A capella music is going to kill me, or something.

    Long live die Wise Guys.

  2. September 26, 2010 at 00:47

    Couldn’t agree more. I didn’t learn to read English by reading fancy literature until I was forced to in highschool, and even then, it wasn’t all that interesting (Great Gatsby and a few others aside, but even those I liked every 5 paragraphs or so, the rest was just filler). I’m a big fan of reading entertaining trash, especially in Japanese.

    Right now I love reading books aimed at middle school girls involving witches (黒魔女さん), and some totally trashy stuff aimed at the average male with something about zombies and hot chicks (これは、ゾンビですか?) and of course the stack of クレヨンしんちゃん 漫画 next to my toilet.

    Adult books are good too, I guess, anything on the best-seller shelf is *readable* to the average person and it’s usually entertaining. (最近の告白っていう and 卒業っていう come to mind)

    But seriously, stay away from ‘literature’. Even children’s literature (魔女の宅急便) will go on a two page metaphorical rant about a could floating through the sky. You don’t need that. You have more important things to do, like read about how to survive a zombie attack.

    • Livonor
      August 24, 2013 at 08:46

      WOW you can say that again! I would post the same if you didn’t do so already

  3. Caomei
    September 26, 2010 at 04:00

    Awesome. Now I’m gonna go back to reading Twilight in Korean, guilt-free. ^______^

  4. September 26, 2010 at 04:20

    マンガ、バクマンは好きですよ。Guilt over ones reading material is highly overrated. And this comes from someone who used to feel lots of it! It’s great to be free 🙂

  5. Brutus
    September 26, 2010 at 14:59

    I just like to read the Relationship and Humor columns of a Swedish forum…mainly. Does that make me, I dunno, like…dumb?

  6. watt
    September 26, 2010 at 16:09

    @Brutus
    Based on what you read, even if you’re “like dumb”, you probably won’t end up being “love dumb”.

  7. Emese
    September 26, 2010 at 16:53

    That’s soooo right. Well, I wouldn’t even think about reading those books if it wasn’t for studying, ne? And as soon as I got some fluency, I would leave those stupid books again, so why suffer? I must get some Stephen King books in Japanese, right now. *grin*

  8. nippyon
    September 27, 2010 at 00:53

    遊・戯・王 for the win!!!
    Last night I went to Bookoff and bought about 25 manga and two 乙一 books(the Japanese equivalent of Dean Koontz!)and a newspaper. I started learning Japanese so I can read manga anyway, so if I didn’t read things I like I probably would have quit long ago. I have tons of melodramatic 少女, 少年 complete with swords and a villian or gangsters and guns(GTOが大好き!)

    By the way, does anyone know the word for “light novel”? I was trying to explain to the clerk that I wanted to read 時をかける少女(the light novel version) but I had to keep on saying “時をかける少女の本。漫画じゃない。本です。”
    Now I’m going to go back to reading Yu-Gi-Oh—in Japanese!

    • Livonor
      August 24, 2013 at 09:16

      I can even imagine you punching your face on the wall after discover that the word was ライトノベル

  9. September 27, 2010 at 03:25

    “You should kill yourself.”

    …..Wow.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love your post.

    But it’s really racey. I get the feeling you’ve been reading Taleb’s work again, lately.

  10. bubble
    September 27, 2010 at 03:50

    Light novel はライトノベルじゃなかったけ? WikipediaによるとラノベもOKみたい。ふつうのnovelは小説(しょうせつ)。

    This post is very timely because it is now Banned Books Week, during which we celebrate freedom of expression and of thought.

  11. September 27, 2010 at 10:34

    Light novels, as bubble said are actually called, ライトノベル , and the trashy stuff usually end in 文庫 (then again almost all publishers end in that, but…!) for example 電撃文庫、スニーカー文庫、GA文庫 just go on amazon.co.jp start from here: amzn.to/acuoHk and end up on pages like amzn.to/aH8ns7

    Enjoy 🙂

  12. Livonor
    August 24, 2013 at 08:56

    I didn’t experience that with books, since most people don’t even care to literature anyway, but with music the story is different, music is soooo overrated, everybody talks about it as being the #1 to define a human being, when people came at me the first question they make is “what music you like?” and when I answer “no one” they look at me like I was a vegetable without life, like if there’s nothing but music in the world, I do listen to music (アニメソンばかり) but I don’t care to it, I don’t know or like any band, or singer, please leave me alone.

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