07 January 2008

City of lit...

Today's Age editorial "Melbourne: city of literature and literacy" supports Melbourne's case to be the second, after Edinburgh, UNESCO City of Literature.

Why any city needs UNESCO's imprimatur to boost its claim (or self-belief) that it is a centre of culture is beyond me, but if Melbourne and Melburnians aspire to it, then the best of luck to you.

I was particularly interested in other comments in the editorial, especially the connection between literature and literacy:

To have a city of literature also requires involvement through comprehension and understanding by those who are best positioned to take advantage of it: the population. These qualities, as with those of culture itself, are not speedily acquired but are the cumulative work of years or generations. The pleasure of reading, something once taken for granted in the best sense of the phrase, has become harder to achieve; in the age of email and text messaging and other forms of instant gratification, reading a book takes time and space in a hectic world full of distractions. Literature is slow food versus the take-away chook leg.

I'll leave you to read the rest for yourself if you're so inclined. I must get off the computer and back to a book. For the record, at present I'm dipping into several books and have two novels on the go (or, with the lure of cricket distracting me latterly, go slow): David Leavitt's The Indian Clerk and Alexis Wright's Carpentaria.

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