ASK DR. BOLI.

Dear Dr. Boli: So I read this book. And when I say I read the book, what I really mean is that I read a review of the book. And when I say I read a review of the book, I really mean that someone posted a link to the review on Facebook, and I read the Facebook comments. But anyway, this guy in the book says that literacy is what causes society to become patriarchal and violent. He says that society before literacy was matriarchal and peaceful, but something about literacy, and especially the use of the alphabet, causes men to take over and ruin everything. He says, “Misogyny and patriarchy rise and fall with the fortunes of the alphabetic written word.”  And also, “Writing of any kind, but especially its alphabetic form, diminishes feminine values and with them, women’s power in the culture.” So is he right? Should I be working on forgetting how to read? —Sincerely, A (Former?) Reader in Lemington.

Dear Sir or Madam: You may make your own decision if you develop the author’s theory to its logical conclusion. Literate societies are the ones we know about, because they leave written records. Preliterate societies are the ones about which we can only speculate. So the author’s contention is that the societies we know about are patriarchal and violent, whereas the societies we imagine are matriarchal and peaceful. It occurs to Dr. Boli that this contention may say more about present human psychology than it does about prehistory.

However, if you still desire to forget how to read, may Dr. Boli suggest that you work up to that happy oblivion by easy stages? Start by reading Dan Brown novels.