"The mind is like an hourglass through which ideas pass like sands, nothing remaining."
There is a world of difference between a mind that has in it ten thousand bits of uncorrelated information, and a mind that is like an organism in which one fact or truth is functionally related to every other truth, as the heart is related to the legs and arms. The wisest of men reads out of a philosophy of life, as he eats out of a philosophy of health. Mental garbage is as scrupulously avoided by the eyes in reading, as another kind of garbage is avoided by the lips. On the other hand, certain "hard" reading, such as Plato, Aquinas, Tonybee pass like iron in the blood and into the mind giving it consistency and strength.
The easiness with which reading matter can be procured today has much to do with the ministering to lower tastes. Those who had a taste for philosophy in the days of Aristotle, a yearning for poetry in the days of Dante, for metaphysics in the days of Abelard, and for sacred science when the monasteries held all the treasures of knowledge, spared no effort to absorb learning. But now that reading is accessible in every drugstore and city corner, the discrimination has decreased with the availability.
After a time, useless reading weakens the mind rather than strengthens it; then reading becomes an excuse for the mind to lie dormant while thoughts are poured over it like chocolate over ice cream. The mind is like an hourglass through which ideas pass like sands, nothing remaining. We, in the modern age, have more leisure than those of a century ago, but we know less what to do with it. Our education is rightly preparing us to make a living. But let education not forget that since we have more leisure than working ours, it might do well to teach us how to spend our leisure. Give a person a taste for the intellectual, the spiritual and the moral, and you make them happy. As a Latin poet put it: "Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros." Reading civilizes conduct and keeps it from becoming barbarous.