Delving into the Intangibles

   It’s Only a Paper Tomb?  

Even if it is with just one book, happy are those who can leave their writing in the world. Chances are a good book will still be read hundreds or even thousands of years after the author has passed away. A tomb made of stone may crumble, but a book that pursues the truth of the universe or manifold nature, and that resonates with the human mind, will never perish. This is because a book is full of intangible power. It can be described as the author’s "tomb of paper."

By the way, the recent decline of the “printed word” culture seems to be taking its toll. The number of subscribers to newspapers has fallen sharply, and books are not selling well either, all replaced by smartphones and PCs. The morning paper is nothing less than the confirmation of what happened yesterday.

Other than the commentaries, news reports, and various other types of information, readers can enjoy articles on such topics as cooking, new hot-selling products, and the latest fashions. These are not altogether bad; but there are the annoying ones, too. What about those advertisements for “once in a lifetime” ocean cruises? They make us wonder, how many people can afford to go on board? We understand that newspapers are struggling to fill space, but we’re not paying our subscription just to read large ads splashed across the pages.

The publishing business is hard hit by slow sales. It might be cruel to say that the industry’s last-gasp efforts can be found in any bookstore in Japan. Step inside and you can immediately catch sight of no fewer than 10 books with much the same titles and contents on China, North Korea, South Korea, the Trump administration, domestic political issues, or self-help topics by university professors, priests, and business consultants et al.

It's difficult to find a book of genuine originality, something totally new, which surprises because you never had such a perspective before in your whole life. There are also fewer writers with the courage to write from an unconventional and provocative point of view. Many writers aim straight down the middle, while looking around to make sure nobody is offended. Readers will never be hooked on such books. And, all the while, still the best way to acquire knowledge is from the intangible contents encapsulated in a newly published tangible book: a printed volume sure to become your guide in life.

It would not be fair to put the blame solely on PCs, smartphones, and television for the decline of the “paper culture.” The contents of books and newspapers no longer have the same intangible power of bygone years. The sight floating before our eyes might be considered a graveyard of rubbish books not entitled to be revered as “paper tombs.”

When I have in my hands a quality book that is full of intangible contents, I make it a rule to draw a blue line beside something that seems important, or dog-ear the page, or insert a sticker, or the like. I will not hesitate to buy a copy of such a book, even if it is a little expensive. Those who read a newspaper from cover to cover every morning, while exercising their own judgment, will never be feeble-minded in old age. It is more effective than taking medicine. Am I talking nonsense for the younger generation?

But, for me, it is part of my Dementia Prevention Training, and I will carry on regardless.

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