Reading: A Paradoxical Journey of Escaping and Facing the World

It is still somewhat daunting to proclaim myself as an exceedingly ordinary educator, replete with biases, folly, hubris, self-delusion, and conceit that may befall anyone. Typically, I do not possess any pastimes. Reading serves as my means to while away the hours and combat the void. However, my reading experiences merely reflect my personal journey.

Certain individuals deem reading as lacking in usefulness, a squandering of both time and finances, thus embracing a contemporary form of anti-intellectualism. Conversely, some individuals excessively venerate wisdom and propel knowledge to unprecedented heights, succumbing to intellectualism. In my estimation, both perspectives may be flawed. Anti-intellectualism constitutes a foolish prejudice, while intellectualism is an equally foolish bias. Presently, when a person boasts of their love for reading, there exists, at times, an element of ostentation, such as proclaiming to devour five books a week or hundreds of books annually, in order to assert a sense of intellectual superiority. In my view, this sense of superiority and haughtiness stemming from such a professed ‘love for reading’ typically signifies ignorance. We have previously posited that ‘intelligence’ and ‘wisdom’ are distinct entities. Numerous individuals gifted with remarkable intelligence may not necessarily possess wisdom, and many individuals blessed with advanced intellect are, in fact, woefully ignorant.

I have always maintained that genuine wisdom must be accompanied by a negation, namely, an admission of one’s own ignorance. Reading serves as the ladder to ascend the realm of wisdom. This existence, however, is paradoxical in nature. We read due to our ignorance, and through reading, we genuinely acknowledge our own lack of knowledge and superficiality. Refusing to read is certainly a form of stupidity, yet breeding pride and arrogance due to one’s avid reading is an even greater foolishness.

Many philosophers possess a paradoxical understanding of books. Samuel Johnson believed that the widespread dissemination of reading material would contribute to the liberation of readers’ minds and the democratic advancement of society, yet he also fretted that reading material that deviated from norms or lacked selectivity might foster readers’ conceit and preconceptions. Socrates, too, likened writing to a ‘medicine.’ Books function akin to medicine, capable of being either a beneficial prescription or a poison.

Today, I remain inclined to discuss reading from this paradoxical perspective. My limited energy and experience remind me that reading encompasses four dimensions or realms.

Transcend the World through Books

The world is not a realm of beauty; rather, it is often rife with sorrowful and indignant news. Mundane work and life seldom bring joy, often proving to be tedious. The workplace remains dissatisfying, and emotions remain unsettled. Many individuals employ reading as an escape from reality. When engrossed in books, reality seems to fade away. I, too, frequently resort to reading to evade reality and momentarily forget about the tangible world. ‘I eternally lament that this corporeal vessel does not belong to me. When shall I be free of it? The night wind remains tranquil, the grain lies flat. The vessel passes away, while the sea of ‘literature’ accompanies me for the remainder of my days.’

I greatly admire C.S. Lewis, the author of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia.’ During his childhood, he became enthralled by reading and believed that the world within books held a greater sense of reality than the external world. Lewis asserted that his home overflowed with books, transforming the study into the safest and warmest sanctuary, shielding his mind from the miseries of life. However, the beautiful world Lewis constructed within books crumbled with the passing of his mother. Books failed to provide him with genuine refuge. Emerging from the realm of imagination, he was still confronted by a traumatizing, painful, and heartrending reality.

If books serve merely as an instrument for escaping the world, then while one remains in the study, it may appear as though they possess the power to confront the entire world. Yet, once they step outside the study, they discover their own helplessness and cowardice. Is this not a form of self-deception? If reading is nothing more than a means of escape, how does it differ from indulgence? Does it not amount to a flight from a mundane and vacuous existence?

Whether one indulges in an all-night shopping spree during a retail festival or stays awake all night engrossed in a book, both experiences result in temporary exhilaration and subsequent weariness. Both endeavors yield a mix of joy and disappointment upon return. Although escape may offer some utility, the challenges of the real world persist despite one’s attempts to evade them.

Craft a World within Books

The world is far from flawless, yet humans possess an inherent inclination towards perfection. Through our imagination, we envision perfection, granting us a temporary respite from the world’s imperfections. When presented with a semicircle, our minds instinctively complete it, envisioning a perfect circle.Similarly, when encountering fragments of beauty and perfection in literature, we are drawn to them and seek solace within those pages. Books offer an escape not only from the harsh realities of life but also from our own flawed selves. They allow us to immerse ourselves in stories and ideas that transcend the limitations of our own existence.

In crafting a world within books, we engage in a creative act. Authors, with their words, create entire universes, populate them with characters, and breathe life into their narratives. As readers, we participate in this act of creation. We visualize the scenes, imagine the characters, and interpret the words according to our own unique perspectives and experiences. Through this process, we become co-creators of the literary world.

Books also provide us with a space for introspection and self-reflection. They offer insights into the human condition, exploring the depths of human emotions, desires, and struggles. By delving into the thoughts and experiences of fictional characters, we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the complexities of our own lives. Books become mirrors that reflect our own inner worlds, allowing us to confront our fears, desires, and vulnerabilities.

Expand the World through Books

While books offer an escape and a refuge, they also possess the power to expand our understanding of the world. Through reading, we gain access to a vast repository of knowledge, ideas, and perspectives. We encounter different cultures, time periods, and ways of thinking. Books enable us to transcend the limitations of our own experiences and broaden our horizons.

By engaging with diverse voices and narratives, we develop empathy and a greater appreciation for the richness and complexity of human existence. We learn to challenge our preconceptions and question the status quo. Books expose us to different ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews, fostering critical thinking and intellectual growth. They provide us with the tools to navigate a complex and ever-changing world.

Books also serve as a bridge between generations and civilizations. They carry the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of centuries past, preserving the thoughts and experiences of those who came before us. Through reading, we connect with the minds of great thinkers, philosophers, and artists throughout history. We engage in a dialogue with the past, drawing inspiration and guidance from the collective human experience.

Transform the World through Books

Books possess the power to transform not only our individual lives but also the world at large. Ideas have the potential to shape societies, inspire revolutions, and bring about positive change. The written word has played a pivotal role in countless social and political movements throughout history.

Through reading, we encounter ideas that challenge the status quo, spark our imagination, and ignite a desire for a better world. Books can inspire us to take action, advocate for justice, and strive for a more equitable society. They empower us to become agents of change, armed with knowledge and a deep understanding of the issues at hand.

Furthermore, books have the ability to foster dialogue and understanding among people of different backgrounds and beliefs. They serve as a common ground where diverse perspectives can converge and find commonality. By engaging with literature from various cultures and viewpoints, we cultivate empathy, respect, and a willingness to listen and learn from others.

In conclusion, reading is not merely an act of escapism or intellectual indulgence. It encompasses a multidimensional journey that allows us to transcend, craft, expand, and transform our understanding of the world. Books offer solace, provoke thought, and inspire action. They are powerful tools that can shape our lives, broaden our perspectives, and contribute to the betterment of society. So let us approach reading with humility, curiosity, and a genuine desire to learn, for in doing so, we embark on a path of wisdom and enlightenment.

  Similar works include “The End of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro, which vividly describes the self-deception of human nature. The Swedish Academy summarized the creative themes of Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro as “memory, time and self-deception.” The award citation said: “In his profound exploration of human memory and history, Ishiguro delicately demonstrated Human beings’ persistence in beautiful memories will make it impossible to escape from fantasy. This may have a positive side, but it may also lead to self-deception.” I often reflect on myself. When I read
  many books that reflect war, famine, and poverty, I will Cry, and then gain a sense of moral superiority. I feel for the suffering of others, cry for the stories of others’ suffering, and feel heartbroken by the stories of others’ suffering. I feel like a moral person, but am I really there? Did I give any real help?
  Don McCullin is an outstanding war photojournalist. A photo he took of an albino child in Africa shocked me greatly. In the photo, a black child with albinism is emaciated and dying. And in some parts of Africa, children with albinism are considered to be the embodiment of evil. They were persecuted for their superstition and even dismembered for use in witchcraft. But to be honest, I was only moved momentarily. I actually did nothing but shed a few tears.
  Russell said that he had three motivations for living: first, the desire for love, second, the pursuit of knowledge, and third, unstoppable sympathy for human suffering. But Russell only loved conceptual human beings, not specific people. He loved the people and suffered from their suffering, but he still stayed away from them; he advocated equality for all, but never gave up his title of earl; he advocated equality between men and women, but it was in order to have greater sexual freedom to indulge in sex.
  Shusaku Endo has a very heart-wrenching sentence in his book “Silence”: “Sin is not what most people imagine, such as stealing and lying. The so-called crime means that a person passes through another person’s life but forgets to leave a trace behind. There are claws in the snow and mud.”
  If we just create an imaginary world through reading, but are unwilling to enter the real world and care about the real suffering of others in the real world, then this kind of self-deceptive reading is actually Meaningless.
Understanding the world in books

  Reading can make us temporarily forget the real world and relieve our depression, but we must eventually have the strength and courage to enter the world.
  In a sense, reading is both a way of leaving the world and a way of joining the world. An American reporter who had been interviewing Mother Teresa for more than 30 years asked Mother Teresa when he was old and gray: “Why can you take care of those dying patients, wash their feet and wipe their bodies, but… But I can’t do it? I am touched by your behavior, but I still can’t do it.” Teresa said to reporters: “Come on, there is a person in front of you who needs your help. You can clean the dirt for her and give her some help. Her dignity as a human being, don’t keep thinking about it, do it.”

  Therefore, we must understand the world in books, because reading gives us the strength and courage to enter the world. Books can expand our experience as individuals and connect us to the totality of human experience. Every other person is closely related to us. Whether they are people in the past, people in the present, or people in the future, we all live in the story of the overall human experience, and we can all learn from the stories of others. Is this why we read the English poet John? I was moved when I read Donne’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”:
  No one is an isolated island,
  everyone is part of the earth;
  if the sea current washes away a lump of soil, the continent has lost a piece,
  just like losing a cape. Like the loss of a friend or my own home;
  anyone’s death hurts me, because I am closely related to mankind;
  therefore, don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you.
  Whether they are fictional works or non-fiction works, they all explore how humans should choose in different situations.
  Although we are unique as individuals, we are not unique in the total human experience. We often say that everyone’s joys and sorrows are not the same. This may be true from an individual point of view, but it is not accurate in the overall human experience.
  Every great work will allow you to know and understand yourself more. I like William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” very much. Every time I read it, I can once again gain insight into the darkness deep in my heart. I feel that I am more evil, darker and more depraved than I imagined. Dostoyevsky’s books will make you deeply aware of the complexity of human nature; Huxley’s “Brave New World” will make you reflect on technology and happiness. In short, every great work is a questioning of your soul, helping you to reflect on yourself, get rid of prejudices, and causing you to think about whether those self-righteous concepts are really impeccable.
  If you are obsessed with success now, then I recommend a book that will disappoint you, Balzac’s “Donkey Skin”. There is a donkey skin in the world that can fulfill all your wishes, but as your wishes come true, the donkey skin will shrink and your life will be shortened. Are you willing to accept this donkey skin?
  If you are now proud and full of ambition, you may open Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, which will make you realize that you should not be too nostalgic for life in the spotlight: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow, day by day, step forward, Until the last second; all our yesterdays are just lighting the way for fools to the soil of death. Extinguish it, extinguish it, a short candlelight! Life is just a walking shadow, a A clumsy actor who gesticulates on the stage appears for a moment and then quietly retires without a sound; it is a story told by a fool, full of noise and commotion, but without any meaning.” If
  you Driven by a strong sense of mission, and even using others as tools for the mission, I recommend you to read another book by Golding, “Church Spire”. This book will make you reflect: Is a self-imposed mission just a kind of Self-deception?
  The more we understand the world, the more we understand ourselves.
Beyond the world in books

  There is no point in reading books if they cannot give us the power to fight against darkness. The novel “The Book Thief” runs through the gray tone of the times, but there are still many warm and touching aspects. During World War II, the Jewish girl Liesel lived a difficult life in war-torn Germany. She couldn’t help but steal books. These stolen books cheered her soul and gave her hope of living. While reading, I often wondered if it were me, if I had the courage of the Hans family to risk their lives to hide a Jew. Although Hans in the novel was not imprisoned for hiding Jews in the end, Corrie in reality was sent to a Nazi concentration camp for sheltering Jews, and her elderly father and sister both died tragically.

  The overall human experience often tortures our hearts, whether these books can help us become a highlight moment in the long history of mankind. Although this highlight moment seems to some people to be just a kind of stupidity, just like the reminder in Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot”: “When kindness becomes an idiot, charity becomes useless, rage appears as strength, and cowardice disguises itself” Becoming rational, beauty is destined to be trampled and destroyed, but evil becomes more and more unscrupulous and disrupts everything.” Prince Myshkin failed to shake this deep-rooted network. He could not do anything for the world. He could only return to his own world. Pure land. But is there really a pure land in this world? If there is no Pure Land, would we still be idiots?
  This may be why Mother Teresa said: If you do good things, people will say that you must do it out of selfish hidden motives. No matter what, do good deeds. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. No matter what, do good deeds. If you succeed, you will get false friends and real enemies. No matter what, still succeed. What you spent years building may be destroyed in a day. No matter what, let’s build. You are honest with others and get hurt. No matter what, be honest with others. The most generous and tolerant person may be knocked down by the narrow-minded person. No matter what, aim high. People do need help, but when you do help them, they may attack you. No matter what, help others. Give the world the best you have and you might get bitten back. No matter what, you still have to give your most precious things to the world. This may be what the scholastic philosopher Aquinas said: the only meaning of our life in this life is to transcend this life.
  These are the four realms of reading in my opinion. In books, we escape the world, create the world, understand the world, and transcend the world.
  Everyone is very familiar with the fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs”. In order to ward off the big bad wolf, the three little pigs built a house respectively. The eldest brother built a straw house, and the second brother built a wooden house. However, the third brother did not mind the trouble and built a sturdy house. stone house. In the end, only the stone house was not knocked down by the big bad wolf and protected the three little pigs.
  I think the house built by the pig can symbolize human ideas and defend ourselves. We must all live based on certain ideas and concepts. A lofty concept can elevate people, while a humble concept can lower people’s dignity. In a sense, reading is to gain great ideas about settling down and living on the basis of the overall human experience. Only this great concept can give us dignity as human beings, enable us to live meaningful, purposeful and secure lives, enable us to transcend temporary triviality and limitation, and enable us to live in a higher sense. Looking at our daily lives, this concept can also be like a stone house to help us resist the hardships of life and the blows of fate. Whether it is the epidemic of disease or the invasion of foreigners, the human body may be easily destroyed, but this great concept will last forever.
  Only by standing on great concepts can human beings feel their nobility and value. Great ideas create great human beings. I have always felt that the greatness of a university does not lie in its buildings, its masters, and its officials, but in its great ideas.
  A fundamental debate in philosophy is universals and particulars. Some people say that Socrates and his students jointly built the edifice of Western philosophy, Plato discussed universals, and Aristotle discussed particulars. However, people who pursue universals can easily boast that they have mastered the absolute truth and are too arbitrary; if they only talk about diversity, they can easily fall into the misunderstanding of relativism, believing that there is no absolute right or absolute wrong, and losing the meaning of life in nothingness. significance. You will find that only when we understand the universals can we understand the particulars. Without the pursuit of universal concepts, only pursuing individuality and diversity may lead to the dissolution of meaning, just as Confucius said to Zigong when he was about to die: “Tai (Tai) Mountain is so bad! The beams and pillars are broken! The philosophers are withered.” Huh!”
  Therefore, my personal reading experience is to try my best to find the combination of universals and particulars. This is my lifelong pursuit. We use reading to pay tribute to our ancestors, because they are our predecessors in pursuing wisdom. Only humility can allow us to truly understand our predecessors.
  Through books, we stand on the shoulders of our predecessors and may be able to see higher. But please note that no matter how high you stand, you are still infinitely far away from the sky. Our pursuit of wisdom is never-ending. Only by admitting our ignorance and limitations can we continue to pursue wisdom.
  We need to have the pursuit of universality, because only the great universal can resist the impermanence of the world and the mediocrity and triviality of every day, but we must respect diversity, and universals and particulars can be reflected in the negative wisdom of Socrates Get bonded. This negative wisdom prevents us from being arbitrary and arrogant even if we explore the vastness of truth. The more we know the truth, the more humble we will be, the more we will respect each other, be harmonious without being different, seek common ground while reserving differences, and be like the light.

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