Literature and Functional Curiosity Essay

1100 Words Jan 23rd, 2013 5 Pages
Reading and Though
In Dwight MacDonald’s Reading and Though, he disagrees with Henry Luce’s Idea of functional curiosity. Luce coined the term “functional curiosity,” meaning “the kind of searching, hungry interest in what is happening everywhere.” MacDonald’s opinion of functional curiosity is that it only encourages practice in reading rather than giving beneficial information. He considers today’s literature as flimsy and overwhelming. MacDonald assumes that all reading done in today’s society is “shallow thinking.” I agree with MacDonald that there is a great amount of mediocre literature floating around, but he does not take into account the technological advancements, the lifestyles of people today, and students.
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The way media is run justifies MacDonald’s argument that people are making things that are, “hastily slapped-together stuff… and would be foolish to waste much time or effort on writing or reading.” All in all technological advancements have made everything more accessible and eventually handicaps people from finding the truth for themselves. Instead society just takes in the information that is spoon fed to them with no thinking required.
MacDonald’s argument was written in the 1940’s. Now it is the 21st century and his argument hardly applies to how information is processed today. Our society has become a more fast paced and busy lifestyle. Time is something that people do not have to spare. People like instant gratification and that is the same way we like our information. Literature is written in a way to obtain the most information with the least amount of time. Newspapers for example, are purposely written where the first couple of paragraphs give you the gist of what is going on and then the rest is detail. If you are interested in the topic then you would continue reading or you just move on. MacDonald’s example of a 16th century man reading today’s newspaper is a very flawed argument. Reading is something that only people with money and high social status is able to accomplish. Not only is it restricted to the upper class, but in the 16th century people were mainly farmers, and could not read. Most…

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