Prozac. Fair use

An investigation by The Guardian, mentioned a couple of years ago by the Rome daily La Repubblica, revealed that many of its readers make use of books as tranquillizers, i.e. instead of antidepressants like Prozac etc. (I couldn’t find the original Guardian articles and I can’t read the author’s name – and date – of the Italian article).

Italians read little instead, argues La Repubblica, and when they are in a bad mood they switch on their TV set, with devastating effects. Then La Repubblica goes on saying that there are hot and cool media (probably distorting some of McLuhan’s concepts) i.e. “those [media] already baked and those you’ve got to bake yourself. Those where all is already represented and you can sit there and watch without adding anything, with no participation of yours (= TV, cinema); and those which need your brain in order to take shape, and need your imagination and collaboration, and if you provide this collaboration then you fly high breaking loose from the real world and totally forgetting yourself (= books)”.

“People who are not used to reading imagine this ability like a spell or esoteric exercise, which it is, in some way, since you have to start, then you have to open the book, read the first lines, then the following lines and so on and on until you forget you are reading. You are just inside the book story and out of your life story. It is a full antidepressant trip, while at each zap of your remote control, the consciousness of your unhappiness increases exponentially.”

I find this reflection interesting, which of course doesn’t mean I do not like movies and other media, this is not the point. Although I know too well 80% of my (now obsessed) readers will not agree.

Italian version

20 thoughts on “Guess What is Better than Prozac

  1. I think it all depends on taste and the skill of the writer/maker. For instance despite other faults, most people who have read the Harry Potter series [in full] will agree that JK has a particular quality that makes you want to yearn for the next part, particularly after the 3rd book. 🙂

    In movies an excellent example would be The Day After Tomorrow. Hell in fact when I first watched it I was getting shivers as if the whole snowstorms had come upon me.

    It is a full antidepressant trip, while at each zap of your remote control, the consciousness of your unhappiness increases exponentially.”
    Basically, I’d say that is for the most part, true. 🙂


  2. Wow..what an interesting article! I just know that reading can be one of the way to relieve depression. I understand that reading could enrich our horizons, knowledges, arises imgaination and it is good for writing too! It seems there are tons of advantages on “READING”. So i think i have to do some more reading lol~~

    In here, there are not many people like reading because there are many different media, like TV, Internet, online game, PSP, NDS….etc..there are tons of stuffs to draw our attention especially teenagers. However, there are some adults like playing online games or PSP to relieve stress. People in here used to say : playing NDS or PSP could push you to use your brain (interactive)and reduce the chance of suffering Parkinson’s Disease when you’re reached the old age. Don’t know is it an excuse to play with it always lol? 😀


  3. I work more than 10hrs a day in front of computer. Whenever I have a bit of time I read your articles. It gives me a perfect relax.
    Thanks a lot


  4. @Ashish
    >I think it all depends on taste and the skill of the writer/maker…
    I agree. Quality of books (or of any work) is central. I think that the woman who has created Harry Potter possesses special qualities indeed, as you said. And I also agree that very good films (etc.) can educate us, although books are generally better to educate our mind (my personal opinion).
    I have to add tho that multimedia education stuff (movies again, animations, instructional video-games etc.) can sometimes provide better results in a way I have to explain in a post, one day or another. So I am not against multimedia works (how can I be since I have worked for a few years with Macromedia Director – Macromind Director at that time – and created myself some interactive movies for a Roman firm I was consultant of).
    What I am against is the decline of book reading and literacy, the rise of garbage TV and silly depressing TV zapping.

    Happy New year to you too, buddy


  5. @AutumnSnow and wdonedward
    Thank you, you both are too kind. I only hope these posts are not seen as someone trying to impose his views on others. As I told Ashish, computer games and multimedia are not bad. Correct measure again is important in things and pleasures.
    Happy New year to both


  6. This is very interesting piece of news. 🙂 But I know some people for whom books induce sleep. In fact, when they want to sleep, they curl up in bed and read a book. Within few minutes, they are asleep.

    Btw, Happy New Year!


  7. ManofRoma:
    although books are generally better to educate our mind (my personal opinion).
    I whole heartedly agree with you on that but yeah in this age multimedia can often be a better method. Especially for kids. Even TV can be educating but most of the time its all crappy reality TV shows.

    Computer games especially can be good for faster reflexes and relaxation. Although most people tend to over do it. 🙂

    I sent the reply to your email.


  8. @Poonam
    >I know some people for whom books induce sleep

    Well, that seems additional evidence that reading is relaxing and brings peace …


  9. Yes, certainly books are relaxing for some. I remember I had, not so long ago, preferred to curl in my bed with a book. Now, of course, I prefer watching movies on my laptop.


  10. @Poonam

    seems to agree on the relaxation effect of reading, although, being he a friend of mine, I suspect he wants to please me, of which I thank him, of course lol.

    This conversation about the differences between books and multimedia I find interesting. As I told Ashish (now disappeared Gods know where), I am not always in favour of books, and multimedia educational stuff can sometimes provide better results. The problem is we have to understand when and why multimedia can be better. I might write a post on that soon.

    Poonam said she first used to “curl in my bed with a book. Now, of course, I prefer watching movies on my laptop”. Why of course? Is it because of today better availability of mobiles etc., or because reading books is not part of youth culture today any more, since multimedia is now killing any other form of media, or is it for any other reason? It would be interesting to know her opinion on that, the opinion of an Indian city woman.

    Autumn snow, speaking from China, seems to confirm multimedia is sort of killing any other competing media: “In here, there are not many people who like reading because there are many different media, like TV, Internet, online game, PSP, NDS…”.

    Falcon, speaking from India too, finally agrees with Poonam that “books do induce sleep, specially if it is the text books”. Well, ah ah ah, I know sometimes text books are so boring. That is unfortunately the fault of the teachers. What I can say, to defend the category lol, these poor teachers they have to compete with TV, movies, Internet, video-games … it is no easy competition ….

    All the best


  11. @Manofroma: Reading books is still one of the pleasures I enjoy but I am a movie buff as well. When you have a working life that takes up most of your working days, you try to connect and catchup with people on weekends. SO movie is easily such activity. Moreover, you look for a quick stressbuster. So a 2-hr movie on a DVD. But books they are longer to read and it a individual activity. I still reda books but I read them while travelling. At home, mostly I watch movies. But yes, I have an unfinished nice book, then I finish it off on weekend. My answer is of personal preference. Hope that throws some light 😛


  12. @Poonam
    Yes, it surely throws light. Modern organization of society seems then making books less suitable, plus they are an individual activity. In the days of my grandfather, when TV and radio were not there, people used to read novels or poems aloud for all family to hear. Of course radio, TV (and movies) changed all this. Thanks for your contribution, Poonam.


  13. Now though my grandfather reads books, but they would love to watch mythological serials on television. My granny any day would prefer watching on television than reading books about it.


  14. @Poonam

    Mythological serials? wow .. on Ramayana and Mahabarata, for example? I have read somewhere that in India there are also many contemporary movies about these great Indian poems … These poems I found everywhere in Asian culture, in theatre, music and culture, for example in Bali, Indonesia, which as you know is hindu, not muslim. I have read something of these two poems … well, no, only a reduction in English prose, by C. Rajagopalachari, two books, one for each poem, yellow cover, I bought in Bombay in the Seventies, from Bhavant’s Book University.

    This person was usually called Rajaji. You probaly know him. He was a “close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Governor of West Bengal, Home Minister of India” etc. so belonging to the generation who created Indian independance, like Radhakrishnan and Nehru. His prose, they say in the book back cover, “preserved the beauty and spirit of the great original in refined and simple English”. Actually I have to say it is beautifully written, in venerable old ways British people seem not capable of writing anymore ….

    I will comment on your movies post soon


  15. yes, serials like Ramayana and Mahabharata. You can find different versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata depending upon regional folklore though mainstay of the story remains same. 🙂

    I know about C. Rajgopalachari. 1st Indian Governor of India. Though I must confess I have not read any book written by him. 😦


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