The Empty Chair

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“The empty chair is producing increasingly more empty minds and the world is not a better place for it.”

Written by Antonio Fragelli*

There was a time when people read books. In fact people still do, but the trend among the young and future generation is changing drastically.

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Is it a good change? —perhaps it would be prudent to think and see.

Imagine a leather-bound book on a shelf or night stand. During a calm moment, a reader sits down in an empty chair, and, if the book is interesting, can spend hours immersed in its pages.

As the human eye reads, the mind builds up pictures and travels to a different world as if in a film. If the book is more informational, the mind begins to build a new bank of knowledge about the subject treated.

The calm and organic reading process is agreeable and according to the nature of the mind.  Brick by brick, whether constructing a story or an edifice, the mind captures the new information or scenario and delights in it.

From time to time, the reader must stop and allow the mind to think on what has just been read or adds a further consideration or development of a point. This is because the mind is much more than a book; it is a living book capable of imagination and development. The book serves as a trigger for new thoughts.

This calm and meditative process is constructive and imparts deeper knowledge on a given subject, or the memory of a story which will later be shared. A teacher, for example will impart knowledge thus gained to the class room. A grandfather surrounded by his grandchildren will retell and enhance the story he read, thus captivating their young minds. A priest may use his reading material in a sermon to help illustrate a point of Holy Scriptures. All this is calm and constructive.




Suddenly, there comes bursting in, the iPhone and its cousin the Android and an infinite number of apps and social media.

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“This trend of distraction has overtaken the world.”

Browsing from page to page, tweeting or texting quick messages or searching for the latest gossip on Facebook, the mind jumps from branch to branch like an undisciplined monkey.

A large amount of little pieces of information distract the mind with short-lived impressions, sensations and emotions.

This trend of distraction has overtaken the world. Everything is rushed and frenzied. There is what might be called a “frenetic intemperance” surrounding the new announcement, for example, of the latest iPhone. For some the smart-phone is a tool that can be turned off. But for many, it has become a destructive way of life which reduces conversation, human initiative, and even thought processes.

It is sad to see children as young as five or six glued to a smartphone. Such an addiction can poison the child’s mental and spiritual growth.

All this buzz and commotion seeks to stifle its ancient predecessor: the book. The empty chair in the library is producing increasingly more empty minds and the world is not a better place for it.

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  • Dorothy Farish

    I certainly agree with the comments expressed by the writer. Reading a book helps to stimulate the mind, can be a great source of quiet entertainment and/or reflection, and also can be a source of relaxation. Technology is good, but the individual using technology needs to be its master – not its slave.