The Leaden Echo
(Poem: “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918)
Many of us seek ways to find a respite from the stress of our daily lives. We awaken to an alarm clock and prepare for the day’s demands. How many of us awaken and thank God for the jobs we have? For the joy they bring us?
Henry David Thoreau declared: “Our life is frittered away by detail … Simplify, simplify.” Most of us separate work and play, making the best of our jobs but waiting eagerly for the weekends, holidays, and vacations.
How many people follow the lives of celebrities? Reality shows? Why?
Seeking relief from the pressures of contemporary life, we escape into a variety of entertainments. But do commercial television and the popular film industry provide deeply satisfying experiences?
To escape in entertainment is ultimately unsatisfying if we return to our ordinary lives without renewed spirit, insight, or inspiration.
The Golden Echo
Literature can offer a profound haven from daily stresses. Well-crafted fiction can imbue characters with vibrant and complex emotions. Lyrical language can enrich a reader’s appreciation of human thought.
Plots that twist and turn, “upping the ante”, can captivate the reader. This experience can nurture the soul.
There is something exquisitely special about cuddling up with a good book. The magic of written words is that they work in harmony with a reader’s imagination. Television and films portray increasingly graphic action. Books leave visualization to the reader’s imagination, fostering a more interactive relationship. Too many television shows and movies involve superficial relationships, clichés and contrived situations. We learn little from them about the meaning of life.
C.S. Lewis maintained that, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
Literature can provide a genuine experience leaving the reader more in touch with his/her feelings. Emerging from an engrossing read, one feels more alive. Feel the waves, the mist, and the excitement of confronting Moby Dick!
The late British critic, Cyril Connolly, argued, “While thought exists, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.”
In the end, television and popular films are an escape and entertainment while literature creates a haven for your mind and emotions.