I’m about six weeks into my round the world loop, been here in Brisbane, Australia since arriving Thursday. For the long trip and spots of free time, I practiced one of my favorite book selection techniques. I went to the Senior Center Thrift Store in Pine Arizona and picked up a paperback I never heard of, never spending more than 25 cents on the investment.
This one is paying off.
I’ve known of Tom Robbins maybe my mention but never read any of his novels. and frankly, Still Life with Woodpecker is so far over the top and down the other side, I could not be happier It is super dark and funny. I get a chuckle just looking at the cover, and cannot help of thinking of my favorite new ex-smoker.
The writing style is rapid fire bullets, and dark dark sarcasm. Mostly, I like that as I read, I cannot anticipate at all what wildness will come next.
Using this old technology to read is fun, and my bookmarking system works as good as anything on a iKindlePadReaderGalaxy… I fold down the corner of a page. Even the seasons get a turn on the grill–
It was autumn, the springtime of death. Rain spattered the rotting leaves, and a wild wind wailed. Death was singing in the shower. Death was happy to be alive.
OMG, Death was singing in the shower.
And why has humanity advanced? Technology? Opposable thumbs? Sharpened stones? Nope- give credit to neoteny–
Humans are the most advanced of mammals– although a case could be made for dolphins– because they seldom grow up. Behavioral traits such as curiosity about the world, flexibility of response, and playfulness are common to practically all young mammals but are usually rapidly lost with the onset of maturity in all but humans. Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.
I wish I could quote that next time someone told me I was acting childish.
Finally, I loved the rapture of the writer on his Remington SL3, projecting the future of technology?
I’m not as far gone that I expect technologists to be interested in designing machines for artists– why if novelists got wooden typewriters, poets would demand theirs be ice. What is more likely is that technology will bypass artists, that a day is coming when our novels will be written by computers, the same devices that will paint our murals and compose our tunes. If I am chucking, it’s because I’m imagining a computer, programmed to produce logical variations on the eighteen possible literary plots…
From some of the bits of network television shows I only glimpse at while in hotels. we might be past that stage.
But crossing over from fiction to (quasi) reality, I am thinking about all the people who write books, articles, and web pages about how reading is dead or endangered. Before I left, driving down to the Phoenix airport, I listedn to an IT Conversations podcast (Tech Nation) with Nicholas Carr.
I’ve not read his shallow book (hey it’s the title– The Shallows: What is the Internet Doing to Our Brain). And who am I tot talk, he’s like a published author. I typically have trouble when people suggest things on the span of human activity, especially this very sliver of what is already a tiny sliver of real time– is changing our brains. I just do not buy it, even though he does tap into science research.
But mainly, I get stuck on what I hear is an extrapolation of his singular experience- of finding it difficult to focus on Old Fashioned Book Reading (hereafter referred to as OFBR)– to that of all other human brains. On my trip over here, I read for long stretches, and watched many others in airport terminals, on the plane, holding analog books (those things where you manually turn pages). I could not see any sign that people were fidgety, inattentive, reaching for their mobiles– I saw every person reading– deeply immersed and calm in their reading.
But I wont extrapolate.
I also grow wary of the starting assumption that OFBR is necessarily a better way of reading– to me it reeks of a bit of musty page smelling superiority complex.
Whereever I see bookstores, places selling used books– I see a lot of people, like this spot in on the Southbank in London
But I remain even on this score. I like reading electronic texts on my iPad, short stories on my iPhone, and just as often some OFBR in a thrift store paperback.
You see, I read books– I don’t read devices.