Sunday, June 5, 2011

Screw books, let's ask important questions that books help us answer!

Or is that too long a title?
Okay, screw books is because I didn't read one for you this week. I've started rereading Nation, by Terry Pratchett and also Pygmalion(the play) by George Bernard Shaw.
I'll pick one to talk about when I've finished them both.
But when you get down to it, you have to ask why do I(or you) read books. Or watch TV? Or listen to music? It's not only for entertainment: okay, I'll give you the Romance Novels, Reality TV, and Soaps are only for entertainment.
But still.
That excludes maybe three of the million and one sectors of fiction and nonfiction out there. And since we still have 999,999 other sectors of fiction and nonfiction that we read and watch and listen to for more than entertainment, we need to understand why.
Which is really the real big question we keep trying to answer through those. Why? Why are we here? Why do people die? Why do we care? Why doesn't life make sense?
And sometimes we walk away with answers. But a why question often boils down to the answer 'because', so we have to go to to other sources. And when they eventually turn to 'because' answer we search elsewhere. Because, somewhere, sometime, and somehow there has to be a reason behind everything that happens.
Because searching inside ourselves for the right answer is hard, but sometime we have to put down the books and the remote and the MP3 players and iPods and CDs so that we can look inside ourselves for the because behind our why.
And we each have a different one; a different why or a different because. I'm not going to ask the "Why are we here?" or answer it with the same "Because" as you or the next person would. It's not that simple. But media can give us little hints along the way to point an arrow down a road to look for that.
And sometimes 'Why?' is too big a question to ask first. 'How?' is simpler--how are we here? But also varying in answers, because we really don't agree on one single idea. 'Who?' is simple and impossible at the same time..."Who am I? I'm me." But that gets complicated when we add on the question that follows that "Who is me?" 'When?' is argued over too..."When did humans start to exist?"
Then there's "What?", which starts out simple enough...
"What is that?"
"It's a rock."
"What's it made of?"
"What are those?"
"Really tiny particles."
"What's that made of?"
"What are those?"
"A fundemental particle of matter."
"What is that made out of?"
"... Shut up and stop asking questions."
And turns into another form of 'because'.
Because we don't have all the answers, even though we want to. As a race, we humans seem to believe that answers are right, somehow. They make things nice and orderly.
Even if they really wouldn't. But I feel that asking those questions is what makes us humans. It'll be a scary day should we ever really find out for certain the answer to any of those question. We'll walk among gods and deem ourselves all powerful.* We will think ourselves invincible and when we do that, we are no longer humans. We are doomed. Because without the important questions, we won't search for right or wrong, and we will only deal with wish and want. We will no longer dream.
And without our dreams, who are we?

*So as not to offend people, that's just a saying.

Got off a rant there, but I hope it was interesting. At any rate.
When we read a book, we want to answer a question. But writers want to find the answer to a question too. Or tell us there answer. Or maybe just show us a question we haven't thought to ask yet.
And that's important. Because answering questions is what we do, every single day of our life. It maybe the hard questions, "Why am I here?" or the easy questions ,"How do you get egg off a spatula?"* but we do attempt to answer them.
Ask questions. Answer questions. In general, think. Thinking makes us better than we are right now. Question the world around you, and let it question you back.

*Let it soak in soapy water for a bit, then use the scrubby side of the sponge to get off most of it, and then for the bits that don't come off, use a dull butter knife to scrape it off carefully.

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