“Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them; but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer
“On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. “
– Fight Club
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– I should be reading, and digesting what I’m reading, but … lazy. Schopenhauer was right – if only the books you purchased comes with the time necessary to read it too. This could be a thing/mechanism in a fantasy story. Each time you spend reading a book, time stops. Implications. So you can’t be killed when you’re reading? So if a person wants to live a long time, he/she just needs to read all the time? But he/she still has to sleep, eat … so this just means that people who have a reading habit are younger than, age slower than people who don’t read. Rich people can’t just hire other people to read for them. They need to do the reading themselves. But then rich people already have enough resources where they are able to just spend their time reading. This would mean that libraries are places that the poor can age at a rate just like the rich. Either way, the rich and the poor would be well-read and at least this would result in a more knowledgeable population. There is an incentive to read then.
-But it’s not just any kind of book. Here is where the writer’s biases, well let’s be kind – tastes, will show. It will only be books of a certain kind that will have this time-stopping effect. Schopenhauer’s philosophical works will be one of these books. I think it is only proper that his works should be included as he was the originator (that I know of of the idea). So let’s add other books by philosophers who are like Schopenhauer – Nietzsche, other atheistic philosophers like Voltaire maybe, and not just their lighter works, but those heavy, hard to understand ones too.
– However, the person should be interested in these works in the first place. These are not light reading, you have to invest your attention, your imagination, your various intellectual capacities to these works. So, already there’s a weeding out that’s going to happen. Only those of a certain inclination or personality type or character would read these works. Even if you’re rich and powerful, you still can’t just benefit from these works. You have to have the right personality.
– I don’t know, I don’t really know. So in this fantasy world, this is the only magical mechanism. How would this society function? Well of course the source of power will be tightly controlled or contested. These will become sacred texts. There will also be issues with the language of the text. Like so what would happen if these texts are translated? Maybe nothing.
– So this then would be a story about the control of texts. The poor population then would have no access to these. It is the rich and the powerful who would have access to this. But not necessarily. There could be like a priesthood or something that would keep the sacred texts closely guarded. They house the texts in this large massive hall/cavern/building? I’m thinking in the scale of those buildings in the Dune franchise. Just big and cavernous and sprawling.
– Ultimately, I think it’s not that useful directly for power and material success purposes. It’s more of a cultivation of the self thing, it’s more of a character formation thing. So they’ll be young, younger, but they have a certain kind of personality that is maybe intellectually or aesthetically pleasing. But who in the world where there’s still hunger and pain and suffering, would have the time to appreciate it? ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’ sort of reasoning. It’s not enough that a thing should be beautiful. It should be useful too. But there are beautiful useless things, and some things are beautiful precisely because they are useless. Is this making any sense?
– So they’re young and well-read and maybe are a bunch of heavy thinkers, but they’re powerless. How would they turn this into something advantageous for their group? Well they could be teachers. I think this magical mechanism would be perfect for teachers. But then they would be influenced by their reading, so again that’s a limitation, or rather a flavor of their thought. These texts are self-propagating, or rather self-preserving. They preserve a certain kind of thought or mentality, a certain personality type. So in a way that is a kind of power, a kind of immortality. But it is not the immortality of an individual, but that of a certain type of human being.