Among the denizens of this wild planet, minds seize on the popular notion of the importance of books. People who read are good people, we are told, and people who do not are ignorant, bad, stupid and wrong.
The common refrain of “read a book” or “educate yourself” rings out across the land, from internet debates to nasty exchanges in political debates. But someone should ask the unpopular question: what, exactly, is so important about reading?
What is excluded by the formula “reading=good” is the question of what is being read. This is deliberate: the book fetishists want you to think it is the trivial act of reading, and not the harder acts of reading important or truthful material, and understanding it, that matter.
In the simplistic logic of prole drift, you get smart by reading. It does not matter what. You read, and since all books are equal, you get smart, because all people are equal. Anyone who believes this simplistic formula obviously lacks the ability to understand anything in the difficult books.
And yet they advance it, for a simple reason: they want to make us all equal. By obliterating the question of content, they are able to enforce “universal” opinions about what is right and claim that all books and facts reinforce these. They are also able to claim that the act of reading alone raises them above others, which has always been their covert (reading between the lines) goal.
Thus book fetishism is a “safe” philosophy in a liberal era and insisting that some books are better than others, or that ideas must be understood more than merely read, are dangerous philosophies. To hide the intolerance of this proposition, the book fetishists hide it behind the rather consumeristic idea that buying and reading lots of random books increases intelligence.
As a cultural meme and convention, book fetishism thus shows where we are as a culture. We have eliminated the question of content and learning and replaced it with conformity to a behavior that can be recognized by others. Appearance matters more than context or goal, and that enables the illusion of equality to continue.