Wednesday, September 14, 2005

the death of imagination

Kurt Vonnegut joins the bandwagon of people who claim that TV is rotting our kids' brains. Ok, not in those words, but in these:

"Now there are professionally produced shows with great actors, very convincing sets, sound, music. Now there's the information highway. We don't need the circuits [of imagination] any more than we need to know how to ride horses. Those of us who had imagination circuits built can look in someone's face and see stories there; to everyone else, a face will just be a face."

If by "imagination" he means visualization, then we should accuse all those illustrators of childrens' books, too. If by "imagination" he means sound, maybe we should blame all the musical songwriters who dare to put lyrics in their music. If it's a combination of the above, then perhaps the blame goes back to the birth of theater and those horrid actors who dare to pretend to be characters in a play.

Does multimedia affect imagination? Absolutely. But I think we need to train our children to tap into their own thoughts and imagination while they're viewing/listening/playing. There is a world of difference between just running your eyes across a page in a book and actively reading. That doesn't mean we should ban books because we don't trust ourselves to think at the same time.

Forgive me for saying so, but Vonnegut, you're old-fashioned.


Blogger Old Man Rich said...

Wow - I thought he was dead. thats made me happy.

In defense of Kurts views...
Books force you to imagine. For each character you create an image in your mind. That's why films of books so often dissapoint, because the people aren't quite how you imagined them. Even theatre requires massive amounts of work from its audience. A few actors and some painted cardboard do not create Agincourt without some serious imagination. The problem with a lot of modern TV and film is that everythings handed to you on a plate. No imagination is required. And this is OK sometimes. But you need to be taught to imagine, and you need to practise to keep the skill alive. And TV is becoming to all pervading. Kids love watching TV because its easy. Its all done for them. And people are becoming less able to imagine. I think.

But yes. I'm old fashioned to.

7:07 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Excellent post, and you're right, we need to teach out kids to be critical thinkers no matter what they're doing.

7:24 PM  

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