Monday, 20 February 2012

From the New York Review of books. Feb 15

E-books Can’t Burn
Tim Parks
Only the sequence of the words must remain inviolate. We can change everything about a text but the words themselves and the order they appear in. The literary experience does not lie in any one moment of perception, or any physical contact with a material object (even less in the “possession” of handsome masterpieces lined up on our bookshelves), but in the movement of the mind through a sequence of words from beginning to end. More than any other art form it is pure mental material, as close as one can get to thought itself. Memorized, a poem is as surely a piece of literature in our minds as it is on the page. If we say the words in sequence, even silently without opening our mouths, then we have had a literary experience—perhaps even a more intense one than a reading from the page. It’s true that our owning the object—War and Peace or Moby Dick—and organizing these and other classics according to chronology and nation of origin will give us an illusion of control: as if we had now “acquired” and “digested” and “placed” a piece of culture. Perhaps that is what people are attached to. But in fact we all know that once the sequence of words is over and the book closed what actually remains in our possession is very difficult, wonderfully difficult to pin down, a richness (or sometimes irritation) that has nothing to do with the heavy block of paper on our shelves.
more at link

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is excellent. The only objection to e-books I find tenable is that the factories which make the tablets they're read on treat their employees so criminally. But this is fixable, having less to do with the medium itself than the business practices of manufacturers. - Brendan

21 February 2012 1:40:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a good article. The top comment was even better though. & the Times article it links to was worth reading. I was actually considering getting a Kindle, & that article only reassured me, but after reading what Amazon has been up to I don't think I will.

21 May 2012 5:09:00 pm GMT-5  

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