I may be the only person in America who didn't watch Michael Jackson's memorial service (I did pay my respects earlier, when MTV ran a series of his music videos).
But I was intrigued to see that a literary reference by one of the mourners had sparked a flood of Google searches. It all began when actress Brooke Shields said that although Jackson was known as the King of Pop, he was always a little prince to her. She quoted from The Little Prince: "Here is my secret. It is very simple: One sees well only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes."
Suddenly, Internet inquiries lit up for the words: the little prince. For a time, it was among Google's most-searched terms.
Can it be that so many people are unfamiliar with Antoine de Saint Exupery's petit masterpiece? Has time run out on his timeless classic?
The generation that grew up with that book (published in 1943) also swooned over the pop philosophy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and the fairy tale love story of Love Story, so maybe its literary tastes weren't flawless. Still, I thought The Little Prince would have more shelf life.
Makes you wonder about the signature books of the younger generation. Judging from recent best-seller lists - loaded with the vampires of Stephenie Meyer and the wizards of J.K. Rowling - tastes runs heavily toward escapism and fantasy.
Is there an underlying message for the generation? Maybe it's acceptance of others, including vampires. Or: Good sorcery triumphs over evil sorcery.
Sure doesn't compare to: "The essential is invisible to the eyes."
Here's what some Read Street readers had to say about Jackson and the Enoch Pratt library's decision to broadcast the service in its lobby:
* "Pratt is keeping w/ the everchanging way we communicate. Libraries are not just about books in the literal sense." . - Ruth
* "Michael unlike other musicians was not hooked on drugs or women. Michael died a hero." - eddah
* "I remember singing 'WHO'S LOVING YOU' at the bus stop when i was younger" - michelle