In Dwight MacDonald’s Reading and Though, he disagrees with Henry Luce’s Idea of functional curiosity. Luce coined the term “functional curiosity,” meaning “the kind of searching, hungry interest in what is happening everywhere.” MacDonald’s opinion of functional curiosity is that it only encourages practice in reading rather than giving beneficial information. He considers today’s literature as flimsy and overwhelming. MacDonald assumes that all reading done in today’s society is “shallow thinking.” I agree with MacDonald that there is a great amount of mediocre literature floating around, but he does not take into account the technological advancements, the lifestyles of people today, and students.
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That lifestyle compared to ours is very different. For example, people who work in corporations need to read countless pieces of information even if they are badly written to figure out trends in the market or even what the new fashion is. Not all reading that is done is pointless and or meaningless. In order to survive in today’s society literacy is important to getting a job or even bettering one’s mind. MacDonald’s argument is very straight forward and only speaks for his opinion. He likes to think that all the literature produced is horrible and reading it only improves reading skills. MacDonald does not take into account that student both have to juggle academic reading with functional curiosity.
Students lived their lives absorbing as much information as possible while evoking though and trying to process what each literary work entails. Not all that is read is considered junk. Yes, there are a lot of ads, useless information, and horribly written novels out in the world, but these things are useful in relaxing the mind. After hours of reading an oceanography book and trying to figure out why waves move taking a break by reading a fashion magazine helps to clear the mind. A change from reading academic books to a bestseller novel allows the mind to relax and soak up something that does not require thought. MacDonald is right that some literary works are flimsy, but they do serve a purpose to