Saturday, February 4, 2012

Secret Messages

I love to read. Daily I try to read a chapter of the bible (currently reading the Darby version - my eleventh translation), blogs and columns, news articles, and a book. Okay, not a whole book, but some part of one. I read both fiction and nonfiction - usually switching back and forth every other book. My point is, I love to read. Sometimes it's via the "eye gate" and sometimes it's via the "ear gate". Either way I love it.

I've been a long-time reader. I'd go to garage sales and comb through the boxes looking for novels to occupy my brain. I remember reading all of the Ian Flemming James Bond novels, and then the John Gardner James Bond novels. When people were reading the Lord of the Rings books, I was reading The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series by Stephen R. Donaldson. I read for the pure enjoyment of reading. Today I don't have pains from high school sports injuries, but I do have some nice paper cut scars.

Back in the tenth grade I had the distinct pleasure of taking Mrs. Taylor's English class. Wonderful lady with a passion for books as well. At the beginning of the year she told us what book we would be reading in class. She was kind enough to honor my request to notify me about a week prior to starting the book, so that I could finish the novel I was reading and not start another one (to this day I can't read more than one BOOK at a time - I can read short articles and blogs, but not a full-fledged book). The book? Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter".

Note: my wife remembers reading more than one book in class, but I only remember the one. She's most likely right. She usually is.

Have you ever read "Scarlet Letter"? The Cliff Notes addition doesn't count. I'm talking the book. Tenth grade was a long time ago, but I remember the book. Not all of the details; I probably couldn't tell when the Demi Moore movie "jumped the shark"*, but I do remember it.

I read the book straight through and went on to the next novel. For the class I would reread the chapters we were going over as needed. Mrs. Taylor would painstakingly go through each chapter, urging us to see the nuances of language, and the political and cultural statements Mr. Hawthorne was trying to get across.

This is where I broke with Mrs. Taylor.

Who said that Mr. Hawthorne had all of these concepts in mind when writing this story? Who said that he purposely laced the book with such radical concepts that to come out with them directly would probably have ruined him? What if he was just trying to make a buck? Freud said it best when he said that sometimes a cigar is JUST a cigar. Not every song is laced with back-masked statements about the devil!

Quit looking for secret messages. There is enough of that in the news media (a.k.a. "bias"). Enjoy reading for reading's sake. When is the last time you just read to read? Not a self-help book. Not a political thesis. JUST a good book? Why not take a few moments to peruse a book store and find something that will stimulate the imagination section of your brain. Grab a Nook, a Kindle, or a dead-tree edition and have at it. And after that, go ahead and read something that challenges your intellect.

And if you want to look for the secret messages, you can always read it backwards!

(* Reference to a Happy Days television show episode where one of the characters jumps a shark on skis. You just knew the series was OVER!)

©Emittravel 2012

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