We must accept the possibility that the habit of reading is a fad, long in duration, but now in its final stages — destined to be carried on in the future only by a few devotees. Horsemanship was, for over twenty centuries, an indispensable adult skill for the middle and upper classes in Europe and Asia, much more so than reading. And yet, within the space of a century, it has become merely an elite hobby. So may it be with reading. Computers will soon become so adept at spoken language and displaying information with icons that it is possible to imagine a generation arising that does not perceive written language to be necessary for the general public for day-to-day life — as a generation has already arisen that hardly knows how to read clocks, since time is everywhere displayed digitally. Our only hope is that the pleasures of reading, meager as they are in comparison to visual entertainment, will continue to seduce a regular few and prevent reading from becoming the technical skill of scientists and history professors. But that is a gamble with perilous odds, given the inconstancy of the human libido. Did not man and horse, after all, once seem as inseparable as…well, as man and woman once seemed?
— Joshua Foa Dienstag, Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit
To the monasteries with us, my friends!