[Undated letter, probably 1939]
Nothing distresses me more than the complete fiasco of universal education which, it turns out, seems to make everyone at once more cynical and more gullible. I have always been an enemy of mere literacy; reading is an aid to the specialist but no more. The spoken word is much nobler and nearer the mind; cerebration and especially memory have suffered general atrophy because of the printed word. What puts me in this morbid theme is the recent hearing of some college students attempting to read simple English prose. Would you believe it, the spoken and written word had become so completely divorced in their minds that every few lines they would make the drollest mistakes of simple pronunciation, whence it appeared only too plainly that what they had been reading all along they comprehended only in the most vague and general way, and where the meaning of a whole document depended on a particular word, as it not infrequently does, even those general impressions were quite laughable – the sort of thing that results from getting one word wrong in an Arabic story. To put it frankly, ya habibi, I am worried.