Right now one of the several books that I am reading is L. Fletcher Prouty’s JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. Prouty was the basis for Mr. X, played by Donald Sutherland, in the Oliver Stone film JFK. Prouty is a controversial figure, as one can imagine, given the fact that he believed in a conspiracy in the JFK assassination, amongst other things. If you look him up on the internet you will see him praised as a hero and called a sham. I think there are very interesting ideas in this book that are very credible, especially regarding our reasons for getting involved in Vietnam. I also feel there are times he makes bold claims which he does not back up. He often talks about a High Cabal of money men that are making decisions for the country, but he never backs up this claim in any substantive way. I haven’t even gotten to the JFK stuff yet.
The reason that I bring up this book is that I believe that when we are reading, that we always read with a hyper critical eye. I think reading in general is positive. I think you should purposely read things from a wide variety of perspectives. I think Ayn Rand is batshit crazy, but I still read The Fountainhead. Even in a book so full of asinine theories, there were small moments of truth. All humans, no matter how flawed, are still possible of revelations. Also, even the best writers have biases and blind spots. Even if you are reading for escapism, you should occasionally reflect about what the author’s aims are and if they hold water or not.
However, life is short, and you do not want to spend too much time out in la la land. You cannot possibly read every book. You need to pick and choose your battles. Occasionally though, you should venture out into strange territory and try out some new ideas to make sure that life is never too safe. Just make sure you are thinking when you do so.
The only exception is when you are reading this blog. I have clearly descended from some all-knowing space god. My aim is true.