I'm Canadian and as you might know, we have a fairly legit new Prime Minister who is fond of explaining his policies by saying: 'It's 2016.' Amongst other things, like showing that it's about time we have an equal number of male and female representatives in our Cabinet, the fact that it's 2016 also means that it's just not that cool to be dumb anymore.
I'm not talking about being dumb in relation to a lack of formal education, or in terms of job status, because, really, that stuff doesn't matter. What I'm talking about is being dumb in relation to simply not having a general awareness of what's going on in the world, to not knowing the social and political issues, the cultural issues, and therefore the texts that discuss them.
The reality is that for most of us living in developed countries, and particularly in urban centers, we have access to information in a way that is unprecedented. We have the Internet at our fingertips 24/7; public libraries in every neighbourhood; free e-books ready to download on any of our technological devices. All in all, we just don't have much of an excuse to be clueless.
There are a lot of ways you can become informed: I've met some people who stay up to date with current events by listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos, or learn about different historical movements by watching documentaries on Netflix. But, partially because I have a Masters in English and like to believe that it was thoroughly worthwhile, I would argue that reading retains its status as being one of the most valuable tools we have.
Through reading all sorts of different texts, including visual ones, we are able to expand our awareness, keep up to date on world events, and develop our own critical thinking skills that are crucial for effectively consuming the media that incessantly bombards us. This has been said before by many (many) different authors and academics (cc: David Foster Wallace's commencement address 'We are Water'), but reading also arguably gives you a certain insight into humanity, and furthers your ability to empathize with others, which tend to be important if you care about being a good person (you should). You will also sound more impressive if you can casually bring Joyce up in conversation while having after work drinks on a Thursday.
That all being said, when you're breaking into the literary world, or continuing to plod your way through, it can be a bit overwhelming: there is so much literature available for consumption it's hard to know where to start; there are time periods with ridiculous names like Postmodernism (it doesn't make sense); and there's also the fact that a lot of literary people and academics can be so obnoxiously pretentious (I did my Masters at a pretty reputable Canadian university; classes were not always pleasant).
This is why I wanted to create a blog space where I can talk about literature, culture, and news sources in a relaxed way, without it being completely dull, or so incomprehensible it's not accessible. I spent five years at university studying English literature, and along the way I picked up some knowledge that I think is interesting, and also relevant to the today. Great literature is considered great literature for a reason. And great theory tends to be considered great theory because it gets to the heart of great literature.
I'm happy to continue this discussion later.
But for now here's the start of Truths and Edits.