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Guest Post: Knowledge in Books

April 14, 2014
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Thoughts From The Corner

As this private English tutor merrily sailed along on the good WordPress, safe, secure and sanitized from the the outside world of other social networking blog sites, I received a request from a guest blogger. Interestingly it came from Blogger.

There are bloggers out there, beavering away to produce interesting posts on a whole myriad of interests, posting on sites such as Blogger, Tumblr and Boing Boing. ‘Boing Boing,’ I hear you ask. Out there in the blogosphere, the Chinese Boing Boing is the most widely read blog in the world.

Below is the post from Malacast Agent pondering on ‘Knowledge in Books’. I have posted it in its entirety, so I take no credit or otherwise for its content or its typos, should you spot any!

Thank you Malacast for trusting me with your work.

 

Before we jump into this blog post, I should probably tell you a bit about myself: I’m Malacast Agent, lead (and currently, only) writer of the Malacast Editorial (mcasteditorial.blogspot.com) I specialize in writing about books, video games, movies, television, and more recently writing. I do post reviews and previews on occasional, but the bulk of the site is made up of editorials that speak about whatever captures my fancy that day. 

    I’m an outsider to common beliefs and practices, but as I get older, I find myself becoming more and more practical, especially when it comes to social issues. I’m a fan of art, theater, and I love a book, whether it comes in paper, or across the digital flow of time and space.
    If you like (or hate) what you read here, be sure to stop by my site,  and tell me, as explicitly as you want, just how you feel about my writing. I’d like to thank Mr. Dean Nixon for this opportunity to put my writing on his website, it was very generous of him to give me this shot, and I hope I don’t stink up his site with this post. Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy this post on knowledge in books.
     Books, books, and more books, but what about the book that makes you just say hurrah! What about that work? I’ve read hundreds of books in my lifetime, and I never learned to appreciate a book more than when I learned something new. Today, I’m reading through Stephen King’s Magnus opus, The Dark Tower series. These stories are a testament to Stephen King’s career, and most of his fans believe the Dark Tower to be among his greatest works. Now before I go too far in, and make you think this is a discussion about the Dark Tower series, let me squash that for now, because this post is not about King’s illustrious work, it’s about books that speak, and grow with every reading. All books are knowledge, and not because of some philosophical idea that all knowledge is indeed power, nor can I transcribe a tome about the complete history of time and space being equal to the latest copy of Uncanny X-Men. The point I make is that all books, are knowledge because all writing from Shakespeare, to the entomology of the banana slug, to even the script of the last Hangover film, is knowledge. The importance, and quality of that knowledge however, is what I aim to question:
      I read comics, because I’m a nerd, but more because I like Science fiction, especially the likes of Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and Orson Scott Card. I enjoy the stories that put character on the back-burner, and tell stories in a way that reminds of a time when community gathered around a fire, that heart of the village powered by ember and oral tales, passed down before anyone ever thought of penning them down on paper. I enjoy learning, even if what I’m being taught requires a deeper train of thought, rather than robotic language that spells everything out in dull description.
   I want to feel mystified, and surrounded by great storytelling, all-the-while I’m learning about the subject at hand. I love to learn about obscure history and social blunders/wonders. I also love satire, and books that appeal to the child at heart in all of us, especially since the said child is being pushed out by a lack of stimulation for many of us. I believe we are caught in this Charybdis of adulthood, and the misappropriation of childhood wonder, replaced by faceless fact-finding, and short-term memory learning.
   So when I think of books, I think of knowledge, far more than what I see from the vast majority of learning today. We no longer drill our minds with knowledge, we instead use the search engines to quickly discover our answers, instead of exploring a text book, or even holding a discussion with our fellow human being. Obviously that is how it is going to be from now until we reach the point of copying and pasting the brain, so it does the thinking and learning for you, so am I wrong to say all books, no matter the content is a form of knowledge, and learning?
     Knowledge from Gray’s Anatomy can (for some people) be more rewarding than say reading about Michio Kaku’s Physics if the Impossible, which is more for the mass market than a textbook, whereas the later of Gray’s Anatomy is clearly a well dialogues textbook for anyone interested in the working and structure of the human body. Both books provide any reader with a vast rewarding knowledge in a field of science, and both are skeptical to questioning by scholars of those said fields, ( in this case, the fields of Anatomy and Physiology, and Theoretical Physics)  because they are not end-all-be-all authorities on the fields they cover.
   Okay, maybe this example works for some, lets try another example, this time on the comparison of two sources, and the subjectivity of their importance to knowledge and education.
    Let’s discuss the idea of mainstream writing. You know, the type of writing that garners fans, Hi-Lo books, and contemporary hardcovers that are in the new arrivals section of most brick and mortar, and digital download stores. Are books written by the mainstream authors educative? Could a book written by Chuck Palahuniuk, be as educating as a book written by Stephen Hawking? Or are we in one of those apples and oranges debates that really are more apt to cause extreme disagreement, than force an intelligent conversation.  Luckily, I’m hear to tell you that apples and oranges can be compared, and the answer to the question I pose is an emphatic yes.
     The rule that all books are knowledge stands to be a fairly accurate rule. Who are we to say that one might not learn from Stephen Hawking, and not equivocally learn another lesson from any work of Chuck Palahuniuk’s?
      I know the argument I am making seems pointless, because I should be making the point that reading books by the great Stephen Hawking yields a far more rewarding use of one’s time, where reading Chuck Palahuniuk might be a fun experience, and it may even teach you a bit, depending on the novel, you might say that reading The History of the Universe, is a lot more thought-provoking than reading Fight Club, but they doesn’t mean Fight Club is not its own thought-provoking commentary. Both examples, and the multitude of examples in-between define intelligent, thoughtful introspective commentary that really speaks to humanity as a whole. Who is to say a book about the likes of Genghis Khan, who killed hundreds of thousands of people across the steppes, is more insightful to reading a book about the guy down the block that opened a bakery. Both are historical, both serve to change the course of history, albeit one in a far greater way, and both historical references could verily affect you, because you might be in awe of the horrors of Genghis Khan, of you may love croissants.
   So why do we teach about Genghis Khan, and not Joe’s bakery? Because one has been labeled knowledgable information, while he other is passive information that is not important to the majority of people. Perhaps a food critic will care about Joe’s bakery, but history professors probably wouldn’t know Joe from John, or Stephen Hawking.
     Books are a lot like Joe’s bakery, there’s a ton of them out there, and not all of them can vie for your attention. This doesn’t mean one book is any less important than another, hence knowledge is no less important than what form it comes in, providing it matters more to you.
   If you want to work in the comic book industry, and you never read a comic book, that can either be enlightening, or ignorant, depending on the type of comics you want to create.  If you want to be an English professor, and you can’t publicly speak well enough to have confidence to lecture a whole class, then perhaps you better learn to speak in front of crowds, or rethink your career. Knowing something, anything that is required of you in your profession is great, but knowing a bit more than what is expected keeps you in the frontline of being the best of the best in your profession.
   This goes without saying that knowledge is a powerful ally in this world today, and the type of knowledge you have is t just for the benefit of your career, but having to deal with people who have to find you interesting, and who will need you to get the job done.
  I believe that education is fundamental, but only if it benefits you, and not just because you were told to go to school, a pressure many young people are compelled to do. Granted, a stellar education is unquestionably the most rewarding pleasure to a flag rowing mind, but it may not always be the very path to take through life. I recommend trying it at least once, just to get a feel for it, even though it might not be your best option, nor is it always your only option.
    I may not have stuck with schooling, and my future will show the consequences, or rewards for that decision, but I believe life is full of what-ifs, and I don’t know if regret is a survival mechanism, but I think deep down that regrets are a part of life that we have to deal with every time we make a life-alternating decision.  I only say that you should do what feels right, and know its never too late to learn, or fix the mistakes in your life. That may not be true in all aspects, but I believe it’s better to fail at one dream, than fear trying any dream.
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