The Owl Has Flown Response

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In Sven Birkerts writing, “The Owl Has Flown,” Birkerts puts forth something to think about for any modern day reader. Birkerts believes that over the years the methodology of reading has changed as the technology has advanced. In the older days, people had small amounts of texts to choose from, but read them more thoroughly, and gained in depth knowledge about each book. In this day and age, the scope of reading has broadened but at the same time become shallower. He believes that we now read large amounts of materials, divulging ourselves into all sorts of different subject matter, but that we merely skim across its surface gaining no knowledge. In his opinion we have gone from vertical to horizontal depth. He deems an increase in the availability of reading materials the source of this change. Through the aforementioned essay, Birkerts successfully paints his argument and shows the power that can be gained from reading deeply and critically. He effectively depicts the changes made within our brains and habits as life around us changes in the literary world, and uses a steadfast argument to prove the negative effects of the loss of deep reading. (Birkerts) Birkerts uses the terms “vertical consciousness” and “horizontal consciousness”. (Birkerts) He provides his rendition of a definition for both. In his opinion, vertical consciousness is the awareness one gains when they thinks deeply on a specific field of knowledge and then becomes well versed and acquire extensive insight on said subject. Horizontal consciousness, on the other hand, is when an individual reads a large variety of subjects but has no deep insight on any particular subject. He strongly favors vertical awareness and urges us that we are losing it. I too believe that the ability to gain vertical awareness is slowly disappearing, as shown not only by Birkerts’ "The Owl Has Flown," but in many other examples, both from the real world and from other writings. As the world's technology advanced people gained access to a multitude of writings they previously would not have and at the same time many new texts have been developed. In his writing, Birkerts gives evidence to back up his claim, he puts for the new develops in the media, radios, internet, and television for example, allowing people to know what is going on all over the world. Each individual in our society i now overloaded with little pieces of information all around them throughout each day. In a way this is good, because it allows us to be aware of things all around the world, but what's bad is that it doesn't give us enough time to really take it in. Therefore, as Birkerts points out, it removes the likelihood that many will truly devote time or energy into any one subject or event to gain a real mental understanding. Nicholas Carr wrote an article entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” in which he takes Birkerts’ claim and applies it to the Internet. From his own personal experience as well as what he gained from other, as he calls, “voracious readers” he puts forth further evidence of our digressing mental prowess. (Carr) He states that as his activities on the web, especially reading text or articles from online establishments expands he finds himself not only having a harder time coming up with the energy to read, but also having a harder time simply taking in and comprehending what he is reading. Carr acknowledges that many good things have come out of our technological advances, and was quick to show that there were many full supporters of our culture’s dependence on things like the internet. “‘The perfect recall of a silicon memory,’ Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, ‘can be an enormous boon to thinking.’” But he also was quick to mention that, “that boon comes with a price.” Carr believes that because the media are the ones who “supply the stuff of thought,” then, “they also shape the process of thought.” This is indeed a dangerous thing. When someone else is able to give us all of...
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