“Guerrilla philosopher” Damon Young is on a mission to revive the art of reading. It’s an ever-increasing challenge in today’s world, where so many of us relax on the couch in front of the television, or on the computer or phone with a multitude of tabs open, absorbing social media updates, click-bait and listicles.
In his new book, The Art of Reading, Young devotes each chapter to a virtue that, he believes, can be cultivated through reading — curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, justice. Young shares stories and experiences based on his wide and deep reading of everything from Schopenhauer to Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek to Nietzche.
Young told The Ethics Centre that teachers, librarians and parents are helping kids prepare to cultivate some of these virtues. “I think you also need to turn to literary critics, book groups or writers’ reflections on literature. Even if you don’t agree with them, they give you rival impressions, ideas and values you can then cultivate your virtues against.”
Young was partly inspired, he told The Sydney Morning Herald, by what he sees as an over-emphasis on the art of writing. “There's very little talk about reading. I wanted to celebrate the work of the reader. Without the reader, the book is just a lump of paper. Every book I read is an invitation to read well."
Join Damon Young as he discusses the pleasure of reading on Saturday 10 September at 1pm, and Writers and Their Gardens on Friday 9 September at 3.30pm. Damon Young will also be pondering life’s big questions as part of a panel discussion on Saturday 10 September at 4pm, and presenting a Masterclass on Philosophy in Everyday Life on Sunday 11 September at 2pm.