“Why do we have to read this book?” Students ask me. We are reading 1984.
“It’s important,” I tell them.
“Why is it important?”
It’s not really important. In 100 years, I’ll be dead. Everyone alive right now will be dead. Everything we did will be a memory, maybe. Big maybe. Some of us will leave markers behind, bits of information, a bent leaf or a fossilized foot print, that will show someone that we existed. But we will have only existed in a vague, small way that only means something to a person who is interested. The rest, the majority of the world, won’t care. Because we don’t care.
“We are the last defense against ignorance!” I told a professor friend of mine the other day, trying to recharge his batteries. He nodded his head, battle weary, and charged into his classroom. And I did the same. But I felt disingenuous about it. Sometimes, when the alarm clock goes off at six am, there is nothing I want to do more than lie and call in sick, just lay there and stay there until the sun cools. Another friend of mine gave me a gentle poke, a timely, jarring truth that actually made me rethink my position on at least four things that I vehemently believe.
“That’s why you’re the 99%,” he said.
I’m eating a Pop-tart for lunch. This is the only thing I’m going to eat until later. This has been my eating habit for weeks now. My pants are loser and I’ve lost about five pounds.
Why did I tell you that?
I’ve talked before about how writers have an urge, a desire to share with world. This is impulsive, and damaging to the writer’s life, sometimes. It’s also odd, to think about how the writer is rejected, dejected, made fun of, because the writer choose to reveal a truth that was hidden. Writers get in front of people, stand in front of people, and they take their clothes off and they say, look, look, look, world. This is me. And the world stares and appreciates it and says, wow, that guy is bold. A writer isn’t bold. We are not special. We just have a narcissism and arrogance that is odd and unusual. We want to show you our secrets.
“In 1984, they destroy books. They destroy information. Why is that bad?”
“Is it?” a student asked. “I mean, so?”
If nothing was written or recorded, who would ever know it?
What if no one ever said that they eat Pop-tarts for lunch? Would that be gone forever? And would we miss it? We have a sense of our past, but how much is gone, destroyed by the ravages of time? They ask, why write anything? I say, because you’re important. We need to know what you know. When you die, the way you see the world is gone, and we’ll never get that unique perspective back again.
Say it with me. You’re important.
You are important.
Yeah. It’s been a weird week.