Bill Hicks : What Are You Readin’ For?


One summer, when I was ten or eleven, my stepbrother came into my room with a very serious question.

“Are you sick?”

He asked it with an expression not of concern, but of genuine confusion. You see, it was a beautiful afternoon, and I had repeatedly declined his suggestion that we go ride bikes in favor of sitting on my bed and reading a book.
For my part, I didn’t understand why my explanation of “I’m almost done with this book,” wasn’t enough to explain my reluctance to go do something else. In my head, that sentence should still be enough to get me out of anything, including jury duty.

Now, his confusion had more to do with my preference at that time for reading to going outside and causing minor property damage like a normal suburban boy. I think Bill Hicks is talking about something else here, an active anti-intellectualism in the form of a preference for passive entertainment to active.

Bill Hicks was one of the best comics of the 20th century and he responded perfectly.
“I’m not reading Hee Haw the book.”

(Hee Haw was a TV show. Google it.)

The experience is different, and the biggest difference between reading a book and watching TV is that the book won’t move on without you. It requires 100% of your attention 100% of the time you are engaged with it. You can leave a TV on and leave the room. Not so with a book. Unless you’re right in the middle of it it’ll just flip itself closed.

And look up more Bill Hicks. Because sometimes hilarious anger is the logical reaction to the things around you.

One Comment

  1. kiwiskan

    Salty language maybe, but I loved the video. News is obviously the same the world over – I’ve pretty much given up on watching it! …and I used to get tossed outside to play at about 10 when all I wanted to do was read…

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