Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nobody reads on the MTR

why oh why?
In other cities the sight of readers is less uncommon than here in HK. People are either playing videogames on their mobile phone/gameboy, or sleeping. I often have the feeling that this is a city deprived of sleep!
And if someone is reading, you can be sure it's a celebrity magazine, a computer manual or a comic book. Whatever happened to readers??
And where are the working class intellectuals of former times?

One of the good things about growing up in the 60s is that my family had no idea what college was about. Nobody in my family had ever been to college or even cared to finish high school in most cases. So years later as an adult when I got a chance to study, I was still under the illusion that I was supposed to improve my mind and understanding of life. I studied what I wanted to and pursued a rather eccentric, off-again, on-again non-program according to whatever personal pull I felt toward various subjects and ideas. I don’t think vocation or future employment even crossed my mind once in the process.

Working at odd jobs during the day, taking long sabbaticals from work to go out with friends, reading and writing at night. The point being that I was having a helluva good time, was absolutely exhilarated with learning and with escaping the intellectual darkness of my family Anyway, that spun me off into an orbit and an intellectual trajectory that I consider uniquely mine, one I feel that I really own, one that fits me like a good pair of shoes. I don’t know if that is even possible today. Do you? The only people I am meeting who have grown their own consciousness and intellectual lives to their own specifications did it while studying in prison. Do you have to go to prison these days to get a real education?
Most of my friends back then were not college graduates, but had read extensively and we could discuss ANYTHING, Marx, Freud, or Adorno. They read stuff that today college students can't even access, unless they are doing a Ph.D on that subject.

In any event, I read the whole time, and so did my mates. Extra money went to books.. If we had no money we went to libraries. One could have some pretty fascinating conversations there with old dope fiends, unemployed factory workers…and yeah, ex cons. So what is it today? Why do I meet so few young people who have this curiosity? It’s a strange generation-one so afflicted with technology. Addicted to gadgets, which is so passive in a way. Afraid of nature, of the night, of different kinds of people. Of course education couldn’t be worse, even at junior high level. Nothing is taught. Studying for a degree that teaches people how to become good slaves to the system.

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