Reading Simple Literature Will Improve Your Life
Simplicity in the most literal sense of the word
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
- Leonardo da Vinci
It is common to find an exaggerated appreciation for people who can wrap their heads around some of the most difficult philosophical concepts. We can of course give them credit for such an impressive feat. But it is also powerful to find a greater appreciation for simpler works- there is an often-overlooked profundity to a good number of them.
We this in mind, there are benefits to us in simplicity, given the practical ways we can apply what we learn in simpler literature and philosophies.
We can learn this philosophy of learning and teaching through simplicity from the Igbo people who embodied this belief.
Simplicity as a Philosophy
Preliterate societies had creative ways of spreading education. Although informal, these methods did need to be effective enough to embody society's beliefs and knowledge as a whole. In this way, proverbs alone had to hold cultural and philosophical meaning that the society could resonate with.
In this way, the Igbo provided an economy of words that gave a mountain of meaning. According to Ifeyinwa Cordelia Isidienu, this pragmatic way of dissipating knowledge drove the immediate society's general understanding to a higher elevation because of the multiple roles proverbs alone played.
If this thought-process has greater implications on society, then why is it not emphasized much more? Simple literature is something I advocate for because it’s straightforward, and it really opens your eyes to greater thoughts that philosophers have pondered upon for ages.
If you have ever read a Rumi poem, you’d understand how one’s experiences could seem relatable from them. The most beautiful part about some of these works is the literal sliding over the pages you will do.
“you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me”
This is an excerpt from his poem “Life and Death.” There is not much to understand here, but I will give it my own breath of life. It is proper to have a taste of the simple in your pursuit of the difficult; in this way, you are bound to build up a layer of knowledge appropriately to tackle that.
Even great personalities such as Musk are bold to proclaim this method as a viable way of going about a problem:
“…boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy.”
Sometimes it is valuable to start from the most basic stuff as you claw your way up. Instead of reading a hair-pulling Nietzsche, you could begin by reading The Little Prince. You will learn some of the hard-boiled truths of life either way. I once saw someone proclaiming that reading fiction is garbage and is not a credible way to learn anything.
What this person chose not to consider is the vibrance that comes from storytelling most simply.
I came to learn the hard way that being too ambitious in my reading is demotivating and downright tiring. It is the equivalent of reaching for the stars, yet the only thing you have is a stool. No matter how far you try to get, you won’t be making any progress.
A progressive path into an amazing crescendo of work from a slowly crafted and built foundation will hold you firm and steadfast at your peak. If you seem to doubt this path, then console yourself with the words of Epictetus:
“You are but an impression, and not at all whatever you seem to be.”
Engaging oneself in the variety offered in the realms of simplicity and difficulty could prove to be a valuable asset.