Walter Mosley, creator of the crime fiction series featuring Easy Rawlins, is one of my favorite authors. In March, Known To Evil, his second book with his new character Leonid McGill, will be published.
In the Authors Guild Winter 2010 Bulletin, I was reading something Mr. Mosley said, and I'd like to share it with you.
He was discussing the trend of combining video and electronic text to be read and viewed online or on an iPhone or similar device. He said he'd never allow videos to substitute for prose and went on to say: "Reading is one of the few experiences we have outside of relationships in which our cognitive abilities grow. And our cognitive abilities actually go backwards when we're watching television or doing stuff on computers."
I've read studies that held the same conclusion. You probably have too. I suspect the reason our cognitive abilities suffer when we are given images to go along with the text is that our imaginations are not engaged. When reading, our brains go to work to supply the images created by the author's carefully chosen words.
When an "entertainment package," once called a book, now, with video added, called a vook, is given to you, with no cognitive effort required on your part, what's left for your brain to do?
A muscle atrophies if not used. Isn't that what happens to our brain if cognitive abilities regress?