Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Books, Honey, and We

I love the feel of a 'real' book, especially those printed before 1950 or so, those printed with 'hot type' where real lead type 'kisses' the ink to real paper pages, and if you look closely, those lead 'kisses' left behind a slight impression on each page. All this tactile pleasure I think is similar to a Jewish tradition of when a young child is first introduced to the Bible, a drop of honey is placed on the first page of the Torah, then the teacher or parent tells the child to lick the honey from the page, and forever more in the memory is the sensation that God's 'Word' is sweet.

And now we have come to a time when traditional paper and ink books are being replaced by electronic books. Even though I decry that time when traditional books will be no more, I have to admit that perhaps I'm not seeing the bigger picture, the bigger picture of what exactly is a book?

I think as we humans evolved, we more and more created things that became extensions of our senses, such as telescopes and microscopes to extend the range of our eyes, or every sort of audio device to gather and funnel every sort of sound wave to fit into our ears. And so books too extend our memory by solidifying thoughts by using a progression of symbols that the last of which are the printed words on paper. Yet perhaps the electronic page is a giant leap forward in that thoughts are not only solidified, but like the mind, are searchable. Ink on paper symbols need to be searched by the eyes in a very linear fashion, whereas electronic 'words' can be searched by the CPU, the 'brain' of the computer, in the blink of an eye.

Yet I find all of this so ironic, it is as though we have evolved over countless time with a very simple goal, that of recreating what is already here -- We.


Rosemary said...

People tend to have a small or closed mind when it comes to change. But if we "drink" from the new ideal, we can build from it. Yet if we only take small sips, then we end up returning to our old way of doing things by building walls. To keep the new way (change), we need to immerse ourselves in the waterfall of change, rather than just sip from it.

Pastor Steve Poteete-Marshall said...

I appreciate this because we were just discussing the future of books today. One pastor in Walnut is starting to teach on line classes, another was saying he needed the physical touch of a book, my wife now has a kindle. I wonder what the future holds, I would think anything that helps us use more of our brains, taking into account we all learn differently, some words, some pictures, there will always be a place for the book!

Lucy said...

I like the thought that there are some ideas that we have come up with that are so good that we are probably unlikely to abandon them. There are certainly advantages to electronic books, and some people may decide they prefer them, but Pastor Steve says, for most of us there will always be a place for a 'proper'book.

I do quite like the idea that perhaps books could be stored electronically and printed and 'bound' (glued really) to order though. The whole idea of print runs and pulping seems wasteful.