When legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog was asked about any advice that he could share with aspiring young filmmakers, his response – in his trademark thick Bavarian accent was along the lines of:
“Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read…”
There was no mention about the viewing of films. Naturally, this was not surprising for a man who did not encounter the television till his late teens, and devoted most of his years of youth traversing borders by foot, gaining more than a lifetime of memorable experiences. He then went onto independently write, direct and produce the most original films ever made, in the most inhospitable environments known to man.
Regretfully, I have failed to follow this treasured advice of reading (for pleasure) for many years. At least, not since the carefree days of my childhood, where many joyous hours were spent exploring the magical worlds that had been conjured by writers such as Roald Dahl, and Enid Blyton. Instead, during my later schooling years, this love of reading and creativity was replaced by a burdensome need to memorise tedious, academic texts for the sole purpose of passing technical examinations and gaining qualifications.
Since then, I still obsessively continued to collect books – and have had sporadic affairs with writers such as Charles Bukowski, but tragically countless other books have been suffocated, stuffed on top of each other and left unread in cold cardboard boxes (where in my defence, they were forcibly kept due to a lack of space). Even more shamefully, much of my precious time has been squandered over the hypnotic, yet destructive forces of television.
Werner Herzog also says,
“If you switch on television it’s just ridiculous and it’s destructive. It kills us. And talk shows will kill us. They kill our language. So we have to declare holy war against what we see every single day on television. Commercials and — I think there should be real war against commercials, real war against talk shows, real war against “Bonanza” and “Rawhide”, or all these things.”
Television, can truly be a killer of creativity and repress one’s childlike curiosity for the world. There is little, if anything to be gained from the repetitive trash (most Brit-American drama series’, reality shows and sitcoms) that invades our screens. Having learnt this lesson, I have eliminated the comfortable, but ultimately, mind-numbing influence of a television box set from my home. But, there is a long battle against years of social conditioning that lies ahead and the presence of internet television does not help! Nevertheless, with the luxury of personal space and some brand new bookshelves, and having cleared those dust webs off my books – I am proudly on my way to rediscovering my love for reading and unlocking my imagination. So far, it’s going well. So well, that I have read a masterpiece and feel the urge to write about it.