I was browsing amazon for a new leisure-read when, mostly due to the immediate effect of good marketing, I thought for a quick second that I possibly wanted to invest in a Kindle. Then I immediately came to my senses realizing that a) I don’t read nearly enough to justify the purchase of such a product, and b) I suddenly, as in, within a matter of 30 seconds, formulated an entirely new schpeal which has led to the making of this blog entry. I’ve realized, or realized further than I already did, that the imaginings of the past are now surfacing into reality. EVERYTHING is adopting a digital version, most of which are becoming the norm rather than the alternative. Cameras, books, sex, CIGARETTES! What previously-timeless novelty is still available in organic form these days? It’s not that I don’t recognize or benefit from the spectacular world of technology. I think it’s just the angsty, wannabe-artist in me that wants to argue in defense of the once tangible pastimes of the world.
I fear the possibly imminent extinction of that beautiful, ghostly sensation that comes from paper and ink. The way the pages of a book yellow and wither at the edges, and how they stack haphazardly on desks, collecting dust and history; a book can sometimes tell a story of its own before you even get into its pages- inscriptions inside covers, rips, stains, wiggly spines and fraying fibers. There’s something magical in a collection of books. What would ‘Beauty and the Beast’ be if instead of the Beast revealing to Belle the magnificent library he pulled a Sony e-reader from his back pocket? My grandmother used to have a bookcase filled from end to end with every issue of National Geographic spanning the duration of probably ten years. I was mesmerized just at their existence alone. I would sit in front of the shelf and read the ascending dates filed one after another. I would run my hands across the bumpy scale of glossy yellow spines, some yellows a little darker, some a little brighter. The collection alone was just beautiful. As convenient as it is to have your subscription of Nat Geo delivered automatically to your ipad, I just don’t think that accessibility could ever trump the brilliance of my grandmother’s collection.
I guess I’m just trying to remind people of the wonderment in things you can hold and touch; pages you can flip and things that can age along with you instead of preserving in megabytes and pixels. When’s the last time you made a photo album? And I don’t mean a geo-tagged, facebook album.. I mean those things piled high in your parents’ basement filled with timelines of your childhood pressed between sticky pages. When’s the last time you sent a postcard? I recently received one from a dear friend while she was studying in France, and it’s amazing how this little piece of cardstock can go such a long way- geographically and metaphorically. I mean, think about it- this traveled from some quaint gift shop in Nantes, through postal services, on planes, and now I have a piece of France laying on my beside table. An email just doesn’t seem as significant, does it?
I know technology is the way of the world. It’s the grounds of modern-day society, and I’m pretty sure we would all crumble to pieces without it. But let this be just a small reminder of all things tangible. It’s silly of me to think these novelties will ever truly die, but I’d like to raise some awareness anyway. I just hope that 40 years from now, in the backseat of my grandchildren’s flying cars, there are still a few magazines and a good book to be found.