Now reading: Maps & Legends: Reading and writing along the borderlands by Michael Chabon
Entertainment has a bad name. Serious people learn to mistrust and even revile it. The word wears spandex, pasties, a leisure suit studded with blinking lights. It gives of a whiff of Coppertone and dripping Creamsicle, the fake-butter miasma of a movie-house lobby, of karaoke and Jägermeister, Jerry Bruckheimer movies, a Street Fighter machine grunting solipsistically in a corner of an ice-rink arcade. Entertainment trades in cliché and product placement. It engages in regions of the brain far from the centers of discernment, critical thinking, ontological speculation. It skirts the black heart of life and drowns life’s lambency in a halogen glare. They must handle the things that entertain them with gloves of irony and postmodern tongs. Entertainment, in short, means junk, and too much junk is bad for you—bad for your heart, your arteries, your mind, your soul.
But maybe these intelligent and serious people, my faithful straw men, are wrong. Maybe the reason for the junkiness of so much that pretends to entertain us is that we have accepted—indeed, we have helped to articulate—such a narrow, debased concept of entertainment. The brain is an organ of entertainment, sensitive at any depth, and over a wide spectrum. But we have learned to mistrust and despise our human aptitude for being entertained, and in that sense we get the entertainment we deserve.
Thus begins a book of essays about reading and writing that is promising to be very good entertainment indeed, and also material for thought and reflection.
Here is another good quotation from the same essay.