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The Importance of Reading

February 22, 2018

 

The Cascade Legion seeks order in a chaotic world, and recognizes that for that order to be sustainable, it must be strengthened at the individual level.

 

Much of the chaos and flimsiness of modernity stems from the emotional and psychological weakness of citizens, who let their attention be led around like a dog on a leash. Where their attention goes, there also goes their sense of importance and causality.

 

Part of the problem is the explosion in the supply of content. This is caused by more sharing, as well as technology that makes creation easier. Whenever we aren't following the latest trend, we

worry we might be missing out on something important.

 

 

The truth is that the proliferation of content does not represent a general increase in quality. All appearances speak to the contrary. Addiction to consumption means you are giving up the tools of strength and the ability to create order, in exchange for the media equivalent of fast-food.

 

Even more important than the quality of our mental input is what is lost: we miss out on discipline, focus, and purpose by allowing our attention to be shuttled from inflated headline to wasteful entertainment. We never have to procure our own objects of attention, and the constant stream of stimuli proffered for our amusement, outrage, and commentary leaves no interest or room for the purposeful concentration of attention and effort towards goals of our choosing.

 

How can we hope to oppose and combat the merchants of tyranny if we cannot function as free individuals?

 

To this end, The Cascade Legion encourages everyone--members and non-members alike--to set aside 20 minutes a day to read, with the following rules:

 

1. Physical. Text online is surrounded by attractions which, even if not followed, are distracting merely by their presence. Pick up a book. If you want material that's online, then print it out and read from actual paper.

 

Audio books do not count. We listen to audio books so that we can multi-task, or to avoid the actual physiological work of reading and interpreting the written words. Both of these defeat the purpose of focusing one's attention. Get a real book.

 

2. Continuous. Part of the purpose of this exercise--it is an exercise, just like lifting weights or running--is to train your muscles of attention and focus. Reading three minutes here, thirty seconds there, and another few minutes in an hour, does not push your ability to focus in a way that leads to improvement. Find a quiet room without distractions, turn off your phone, tell your family to leave you in peace for 20 minutes, and read. Wear hearing muffs if you have to.

 

3. Meaningful. Read something that is important to you, and that will improve yourself. This can include almost anything, and the primary mechanism of improvement is the act of concentration for reading, rather than the content, but there's no reason not to kill two birds with one stone.

 

If you don't know where to start, here are a few ideas:

 

- Religious texts and mythology: Read the Bible, Homer, the Mahabharata, or Niebelungenlied

Philosophy: Especially the classic Greeks (Plato, Aristotle) and the Romans (Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Cicero)

Legion Specific: Donovan, Lind and Thiele, and Vox Day

 

Train hard, with your body and your brain.

 

-VOLENS PUGNARE

 

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