The grubby literati in America

Fang-Face writes "An interesting look at the state of literacy in the U.S. and a recent movement decrying the slipping standards thereof. Titled
Who Reads in America?, By Mark Schurmann, Pacific News Service, and posted to, this article intimates that literacy is becoming an underground counterculture."


In the first several paragraphs the author states this:

I read Flannery O'Conner and John Milton, James Baldwin and William Styron, Homer and Shakespeare. I read Hills Like White Elephants, by Hemingway over and over again until I could understand it. I read everything by Stephen King (still do).

There are certain segments of the educational industrial complex that have demonized many of the authors named above and tried to replace them with rather inferior substitutes.

A strong case could be made that college is not about learning. In addition, far too many elementary and high schools are not at all interested in teaching students. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the fact that many of the parents of these students aren't interested in having their children educated.

Reading has always been one way of telling the social classes apart. With a patronizing smile, we can see that low class immigrants, jailbirds and subway riders either don't read or read trash novels and cheap photo-filled gossip/celebrity magazines.

      We are surprised and startled then, when we see the low class members reading high-brow stuff- that is usually reserved for the upper classes, those with higher education, and the wealth to give the members time for contemplation and intellectual stimulation. America has always allowed some up and down movement in the social classes, certainly more so than in other countries, but it always seems to surprise people to see the working class doing upper class entertainment. After all, it is easier for upper class people to go slumming than lower class people to ape their social betters. This is also a frequent literary device- either from "Trading Places" where a street hustler is placed in luxury, or "Captain's Courageous" where an upper class boy has to learn working class skills and morals, and "A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur's Court," where a man of technical merit but no social standing makes a life for himself in a stratifed society.

        And it actually works. In America, we do hold that image of Abraham Lincoln reading by the light from his fireplace and growing from country bumkin and Kentucky redneck to become president of the United States. Anbd this was in part what early public libraries were designed to do- allow working men and women to increase their education to become almost middle class.

        And remember, it was once unlawful to teach slaves how to read- it might give them ideas above their social station where God had placed them! How ungrateful!