Sunday, October 20, 2013

People Made of Ink

"Among the books burned that night in 1933 was the play Almansor (1821) by the German Jewish writer Heinrich Heine. The play contains this famous and prophetic line: “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”"- I absolutely loved this quote. It helped put the whole chapter into perspective for me. It really helps cement the point that Gottschall was making with the effects characters have on people. Surprisingly, this is the first chapter when I have agreed with Jon Gottschall almost entirely. His use of examples when describing how books change peoples personalities, while extreme, were very persuasive. Gottschall's examples included the ever argumentative and speculative questions surrounding Adolf Hitler.
It is hard sometimes for us to think of Hitler of being human and the way that Gottschall described him was done to make it the story of a complicated life of a teenager with a passion. This is not much different than many other books (fictional and otherwise) that are used to suck in the reader. Our personality changes little by little with each story that we encounter. One such example of this is how J.K. Rowling changed the world through her enticing Harry Potter series. How many people's lives were changed as they anticipated the next book/movie to be released?
How much money did the average human spend trying to buy the latest "Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean" package, the next book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" with notes by Harry, Ron, and Hermoine (fictional characters!), or even the latest Harry Potter games? These characters that J.K. Rowling painted with words into our head have changed how people view others. They have changed the personalities of several young readers and brought new terms to conversations that would never have been otherwise.
On the other side of the spectrum, it is hard not to think that people have been changed by the comic books recently made into several popular movies ("Captain America", "Thor", "Iron Man", and the one that brought these heroes together, "The Avengers"). How many children have changed their games of make believe based on these movies being released? While these movies are very obviously make believe, there are parts of the brain that overlook this simple fact to exclaim the incredibleness and possibility of these movies.
There are hundreds of books, movies, or stories released that have had the ability to change the one consuming it. These stories have changed our own personalities, our interests, how we talk, or even some (such as Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", which I disliked to a certain degree) have changed how we think and our ideas about right and wrong. Stories and especially the characters within, are able to change us in many subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways.

I will be the first to admit, my research took a definite hit this week due to the number of tests I had. I anticipate being able to pick up the slack now that my midterms and other exams are done for the time being. This research is going to take a much higher priority this week.


  1. I didn't think it was as persuasive as you make it out to be. I think that his ideas were to extreme to convince me. I'm very biased in my thought, but I honestly can't think that a story made Hitler decide he was going to kill all the Jews. I think that this chapter tried to justify the Holocaust just to try and support Gottschall's point of view. When really, I don't think, "because of a book" would hold up in court. Good post though.

  2. I would have never thought about using the Avengers as a example of our brain being trick to think its real. even with what Hitler did and after reading/ making The International Jew he should have know that it was just a book not real. good post

  3. I agree with your post. I think Harry Potter is a great example. There are strong themes of right and wrong and justice. I am sure that this influenced many people's ideas on these subjects.