Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Staving Off a Mushy Brain

Much as I have enjoyed the Ken Burns' documentary on the Roosevelts, the first hour that I could stay awake for each of the past 2 nights, I do not anticipate having time to watch the whole thing.  Happily, this morning, I discovered a different option.

As I graded student rough drafts, I listened to an interview with Ken Burns on the Diane Rehm show, an NPR program.  I found the subject matter interesting, but at times, Burns talks about the process of creating the documentary--who should do which voice, which pictures should be used--which fascinated me too.

Burns says that no other U.S. family has so impacted the course of history.  He makes a strong case. 

While you're at the website for the Diane Rehm show, you could also check out this interview with poet and essayist Diane Ackerman.  She's so optimistic about the future of the planet--it's a wonderful counterpoint to the gloomy news that fills every airwave.

My English major heart was also made glad by this interview on Fresh Air:  Maureen Corrigan talks about her book that's about The Great Gatsby.  I haven't read that book in decades, but the interview was still wonderful--and a great reminder about why that novel is so important.

There are days when I feel sad about how much I am not reading these days.  But in so many ways, these types of NPR shows have taken the place of some of the reading that I used to do.  It's not as good as diving into the subject deeply with a book.  But it's better than a lot of the magazine reading that I used to do--these kinds of interviews are much more in-depth treatment of whatever subject is at hand.

Of course, I have to wonder if I really get all the salient points if I'm listening while doing other things.  I guess it matters what the other things are.  But happily, if I feel I've missed too much, I can go back and listen again.

The larger issue:  is my brain turning to mush?  The one detail from this morning's interview with Ken Burns that stays with me:  Teddy Roosevelt read one book a day, unless he was on vacation, when he read several books on any given day.

I used to read a similar amount, back in my pre-administrator days.  Those were also the days of slower Internet connections, which meant that I had fewer online distractions.  Hmmm.

But I am grateful for the Internet, even with it's potential distractions.  I'm grateful for intellectual stimulation, especially when I don't have reading time.  I think the Internet is doing more to keep my brain from mushifying than causing my brain's decline.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I do love NPR for acquiring knowledge! It alerts me to many books I do seek out later, and many more that I don't seem to make time for but am glad to have learned a bit about!