Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BOOK(S) - Begins January 4 / Ends January 11 (01/04/18)
- TITLE: All Those Extra Dimensions...
By Noel Mitaxa
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Seated in a circle, they had gradually disengaged from Twitter feeds, their cell phones, laptops and tablets; leaving their instant, world-wide contact with invisible others; to face a stretch of three-dimensional and personal, non-tech interaction.
Their varying postures may have provoked material for body-language experts, but Derek was less interested in imposing analyses on them than in drawing out their thinking. He took his place on a centrally-placed swivel chair and placed a box on his lap.
“You already know more about communication than I did at your age,” he began, launching an irregular series of slow chair-rotations, so he might maintain eye-contact with their various levels of interest.
“But let’s think about the earliest communication methods…”
Their responses came thick and fast…
“True,” said Derek, “you’ve covered the fickle to the fixed; but none of them was very portable.”
“What about parchment scrolls?” suggested another. “they’re portable.”
“Letters and books!” called yet another.
Derek’s face fell in a fake frown. “Now you’re almost getting ahead of me... Again.”
Then a smile broke free as he opened the box and lifted its contents above his head. “Here is the most efficient communication of all!” he declared.
They looked up and almost in unison, retorted, “But it’s just a book!”
“Ah, you only see a book, but I see a Battery-free, Organised, Omni-dimensional Knowledge System! he continued, as the room briefly morphed into a miniature, chair-scraping, Mexican Wave of groans. Then the objections became more articulate. And insistent:
“But we can access limitless information instantly – anytime!”
“We can see and hear experts in any field of knowledge, wherever we are!”
One student proffered his phone. “This carries more information than all the books in the whole college library, and it fits in my pocket!”
A palms-up gesture of apparent surrender introduced Derek’s reply, “Of course, you’re right. There’s so much knowledge available, and it’s expanding so fast. But have you ever considered how little time this constant bombardment of new stuff gives you to reflect on it or to interact with it?
“Technical information provides unalterable, three-dimensional facts; while history can expose us to another dimension – time; especially if we can identify with the characters who have shaped the history. Helping us to understand their attitudes, their actions and their effects can offer us a window onto understanding ourselves in any present or potential scenario we may face.
“But what about this omni-dimensional bit, I - almost - hear you ask?
“Movies, on-line footage or social media offer us the colours, sounds, spaces and times of their stories – even down to the soundtrack. But they cheat us of extra dimensions.
“For example, can you remember how many actors have played James Bond?”
A youthful silence was punctuated by his prompting, “The pioneering Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton may be past your time scale. These actors have all portrayed Bond differently – but only as the scriptwriter, the producer and the director have allowed them.
“Books – especially novels - break open the omni-dimensional barrier of your own imagination, which lets you progress through stories at your own pace and identify with any character you choose.
“With a book you can become your own director, producer, musical arranger and special effects guru as you climb inside different characters, according to your experience, your hopes or your questions. Books help you to visualise or hear the background action. What kind of music comes to mind – or what sounds or even smells - travel with you through the pages with different characters?
“Books also allow you to underline or to add your comments – which isn’t easy with e-media.
“And did you realise that though books don’t need batteries, they can recharge themselves?”
That pearl met more puzzled looks, so he hurried to explain.
“If you re-read any book that you’ve not scanned for a while, you’ll often find new information or insights. It’s always been there, but you and your world will have changed from when you first saw it.
“Keep up with your electronic input, but make a point of tackling books that challenge you to reflect on life and your part within it. One book I recommend that you include is the Bible, for I’ve found that it helps me a lot. I’ve left some copies beside the door, and you’re each welcome to take one as you leave…”
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