Thursday, August 25, 2005

Words, words, words.

I think that schools teach us to hate books.

When I was a child, books were my constant friend. By the time I graduated from high school, I didn't even want to look at the things, anymore. I have met many people in my adult years who either don't read at all, or tumble into that incestuous morass that is modern fantasy reading, never to escape again.

What happened?

We do not learn to appreciate wine by performing a chemical analysis of it. If we are to dissect a piece of music or a movie, it is only after appreciating the whole, and it is only to better understand the craftsmanship behind it, the influences that shaped it, and the ontological classification of the work.

Yet, we are handed our books with a pair of forceps and a scalpel. With cold calculation, we are to dissect every nuance, every image, and every motif. We are performing an autopsy on a cold corpse, carefully excising each organ, and weighing it upon a scale. Where is the beauty? Where is the life? How are we to appreciate this ruined carcass -- this butchered beast? The carrion birds have picked it clean of its meat. We are left with nothing but the bones, and a ghost of what it might have been. We have a vague impression of how we might have felt for it when it was alive, but we were never given the chance to know it.

It is a grave thing to lose one's love of reading. In this line of business -- making games -- it leaves us with a vile deficit. Our horizons become pinched at the edges, growing ever smaller. Perched in our rolling chairs in the wee hours, gorging ourselves on legal stimulants as we try to claw ourselves free from the bugs that clutch and gnaw at the edges of our creations, what windows do we have into the human condition, beyond those afforded us by the few like-minded creatures within rubber-band shooting range? Do we really know what it's like out there? Can we see with the eyes of the strangers on the morning train, and the hearts of the children drawing on the sidewalk with fat stumps of chalk?

We must open our blinds and let the words in, when we can. The time is there, if we remember where to look for it.

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