"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." - Confucius
In an interview of Bill Cosby by Tom Keogh that was published in the Seattle Times newspaper on Father's Day (June 20, 2010), Cosby said, "The problems with kids having short attention spans is driven by entertainment... Everything is 'cut to the chase, cut to the chase.' Whereas when you read and take your time, things build in a story, you delay the crescendo."
Carole and I like to walk through a nearby neighborhood that we also frequently drive through. She says, "When you walk you notice more." She is right. I see much more because I am moving slower and taking more time to observe things around me. The same thing happens when I read. I learn more because I have time to comprehend the material. I have probably been on the HauntedMansion ride at Disneyland close to 100 times. I learned something new when I read a description of the ride that I had never noticed while in person. In the famous ball room scene a birthday party is in progress. I knew that the guests would vanish and reappear. What I had never realized is that the guests disappear when the ghost of honor blows out the candles on his birthday cake. When he inhales, the candles relight themselves and the guests reappear. Once that was pointed out to me in a book, it was easy to observe when I recently went on the ride. If I had not taken time to read the book, I probably still would not have noticed that detail which makes being on the ride more enjoyable.
I recently read a report that people who get most of their information off the internet read things less in depth than those who read books. Internet articles tend to be short and copied from other internet articles. I did an internet search for information on a female court jester named Mathurine. I was surprised by how little information was available. Two facts were included in most internet articles: she often dressed as an Amazon warrior, and she once risked her life to protect the king from an assassin. It wasn't until I started to read a book titled Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester Around the World, by Beatrice K. Otto, that I learned Mathurine was a pygmy. Her diminutive size makes her costume funnier and her act of bravery more courageous.
According to Beatrice Otto, court jesters were more prevalent in Asia than in Europe over a longer period of time. She said that in China most people are ignorant of the existence of jesters in their country's history because they don't read the ancient records that were written during the lifetime of the jesters. (Reading history was particularly discouraged during China's Cultural Revolution.) When I was in Singapore six years ago with a group of Clown Camp instructors, I went to the South East Asia Museum and saw masks of clown characters and a video that included two clown characters participating in a religious ceremony. Now that I am reading Otto's Fools Are Everywhere I will be able to understand the history of clowning in South East Asia if I see something related to it during my trip next month.
Reading about the impact Court Jesters had upon their cultures makes me proud to be a clown. It also demonstrates the power of humor as a persuasive tool which helps me understand the modern use of humor in education.
Also, some people consider Clown Ministry a recent fad of questionable value. I have learned from Otto's book that there is a firm foundation for clown ministry. Several of the Popes had jesters on their staff and valued their contributions to a spiritual life. Both the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches have canonized "holy fools." St. Francis believed that priests should be God's Jesters. Saint Philip Neri (1551-1595) was a church jester who believed that gloominess would harm the soul. Reading the long history of clown ministry and its impact convinces me that it should be taken more seriously today.
How can you make time to read? What do you feel ignorant about? What can you read to fill in that gap in your knowledge? How will taking your time to read increase your understanding?