By Vijay Phanshikar :
“My television fed me visions, but I never
created my own until I became a reader.”
-- Barry Lane,
Author of many books,
and celebrated teacher
WHAT a wonderful assertion!
And that is the experience of all those who read.
That is also the experience of all those who spend hours watching television -- though they may never want to admit the truth!
But Barry Lane is underlining a universal truth -- that reading (books) is one activity that helps the person evolve his or her own vision, unfed by any extraneous source (like television).
In a way, even the book is
an extraneous source, some may say.
However, there is a fine difference -- between the television and the book: The television is a medium that feeds you visions but do not allow you the freedom to imagine, to delve into the unknown, to define the indefinable. For, there is noise, there is an overdoing of colour, and there is a series of pre-meditated picture-frames aimed at creating only a certain effect.
The book is different. It is a silent cohort in your hands. It does speak to you, and also listens to you -- through its pages, through its characters, through its, well-chosen words. And that is the reason most people who love reading find themselves engaged in a conversation with the book. And to say the least, it offers a very absorbing communion which is not dominated by pre-fed colours and sounds and pictures. The book speaks to you in whispers. It also listens to your whispers -- or even hears the words you have never spoken but had those in mind. That is an amazing dialogue -- which every reader has experienced since book came into existence. It stuns the reader almost always.
The reader wonders all the time: ‘Oh, I never uttered the word, but the book has caught its vibration in mind. How does it do that?!’ Such a sense of wonderment often assails the reader as he gets engaged in romance with book. The book opens its heart to the reader. It whispers sweet nothings into the reader’s ears. It nudges the reader into an idea. It suddenly plunges into a domain of silence -- all by itself. And as the reader experiences this process, he -- or she -- realises that he is creating a vision of his -- or her -- own. In that vision, the reader is free to fill his -- or her -- own colours and sights and sounds and feels and fragrances and even fads and fetishes.
Only book offers such a freedom -- that the television does not in the least. Ask any reader of books, and he or she will say the same thing -- in any and every nook and corner of the world, at any point in time in the past and the present and the future. God is yet to create any medium so far as engaging as a book! Period.