I believe books and print capture our imaginations and inspire us on a level above that fostered by today’s sight-and-sound multimedia. In its ability to touch our imaginations and contribute to our individuality, print is irreplaceable.
Being born into a world full of multimedia that poured stimuli incessantly into my ears and eyes, I got used to television and the computer and took them for granted, inherently took them as superior in many ways to the ancient and motionless print, especially in engaging our imaginations.
It was around the sixth grade that I encountered ‘His Dark Materials’, a fictional fantasy trilogy written by British author Phillip Pullman. The Golden Compass, the first of Pullman’s epic trilogy, was the first work of fiction that touched and amazed me and forever made me a believer of print. Initially I started reading Phillip Pullman out of obligation to literacy in general, as at that time boredom would never have driven me that far. But as I poured my thought and concentration into it, Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass all had me mesmerized chapter by chapter of how Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry and their magical animal counterparts undertook a journey far bigger than themselves, unraveling the secrets of their universe. Page by page, chapter by chapter, the story unfolded in my own mind, through my own mind. I was using my imagination to explore a tale that Philip Pullman had laid out the trail for.
With multimedia, the variety of everyone’s experience is quite narrow, but with books, the experience is personalized and reaches the mind and soul of the reader to a much greater extent. Perhaps that is why it is almost a maxim that books are always better than their movie counterparts.
In multimedia forms such as movies, the presence of sight and sound and their dominance as the medium of communication constricts the viewer or listener to one view or interpretation, that of the multimedia maker’s. Books and print allow for the depth and breadth of one’s imagination to actively fill in the gaps of print’s description in such a way that leaves leeway for interpretation. Print can be interpreted individualistically, sometimes with more than one interpretation being justifiably correct.
I believe reading encourages us to think in our own way, to actively use and exercise our own devices of interpretation. I believe that no other medium than print gives us the ability, and joy, to do this, and for that, print is truly irreplaceable.
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