Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Gutenberg Elegies

Chapter 9

Computers can provide the tools but the problem is when it becomes more than that and it becomes the only way that people learn a crutch that has replaced books with a collection of video, soundbites and selected texts.

“The danger should be obvious: The horizon, the limit that gave definition to the parts of the narrative, will disappear. The equation itself will become nonsensical through the accumulation of variables. The context will widen until it becomes, in effect, everything.” Pg 138

The question being asked here is whether or not the user can handle the data.

Chapter 10

Along with his belief in reading being connected to the soul the other phrase that most people connect with Birkerts is ‘deep reading’. Here he sets out exactly what he means by that:

“Reading, because we control it, is adaptable to our needs and rhythms. We are free to indulge our subjective associative impulse; the term I coin for this is deep reading: the slow and meditative possession of a book. We don’t just read the words, we dream our lives in their vicinity. The printed page becomes a kind of wrought-iron fence we crawl through, returning, once we have wandered, to the very place we started.” Pg 146


He then goes on to talk about audio books and how they change the process of ‘reading’, if that’s what it can still be called. He likes audio books but believes the reader has lost control, their rights, having to sit through a telling and a single interpretation of a text.

More tomorrow…

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