The title of this image, created by Jesse Lenz for a story in the November issue of Popular Science magazine, is The Analog Kindle.
I can’t say I’ve seen a copy of that magazine in 30 or 40 years, but I leafed through it at the optometrist’s office yesterday as I waited for my eyes to dilate for the retinal examination.
In the article that image accompanies, Lawrence Weschler writes about his ambivalence with the vast cloud of information we have now, mostly online, that grows exponentially and I felt a kinship. I love having so much information quickly available when I want it but like Weschler, I often feel overwhelmed with the amount of data flowing toward me all day every day.
I like my Kindle for certain things and it is more convenient to carry around than a heavy, hardcover book if that’s what I’m in the middle of reading. But I want a real, printed book with covers for certain kinds of reading and information and I cannot imagine my home without my physical books.
I am grateful to Marcus Tullius Cicero who, in the first century B.C., articulated that feeling for me when he famously said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Here a small bit I like from Weschler’s story in Popular Science:
“[The Web and books] provide two fundamentally different sorts of experiences. Books are centripetal, whereas the Web is centrifugal. Books draw you in, whereas Web pages hurl you forth and out (by way of all those irresistible links).
“The Web, as we have seen, is immaterial (opening, as it now does, into a cloud). Books, in contrast, are not just substantial they are substantial in a particular way: They have a spine, which in turn implies a pair of outstretched arms and an enfolding embrace, or at the very least a dance.
“Books force you to enter into a kind of I-Thou relationship — approaching, as the poet Rilke once parsed matters, the ‘more human love’ that ‘consists in the mutual guarding, bordering and saluting of two solitudes.’
“The Web occasions a sort of frenzy of rebound, a swirling frottage with the many (albeit one that is almost solipsistically onanistic).”
Okay, okay. The writing is unnecessarily excessive at the end but the comparison is a good one. I can’t imagine now, after a couple of decades, living without the web. But I don’t want to live without my analog Kindles either.
Perhaps, we are the last generation who will feel that way.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Madonna Dries Christensen: The Quiet Warrior