books vs. screens

these days, i’m a programmer, which means that i sit completely motionless and stare at text and numbers and code all day long on the same two square feet of lateral space while the phosphors contained therein flash and dance and luminesce in fleetingly transient forms and colours.  the fickleness of all of those states of being  – the lack of commitment and dedication to being – occasionally strike me as metaphoric for many of the things that have come to be in our modern world.

i finished a ridiculously meaty paperback novel today on the subway – with its pedestrian, 90% recycled paper newsprint paper – and started into my new novel, rant by chuck.  i’d forgotten what it was like to read a hard-cover book and how decadent and indulgent a feat it could be. i started thinking about the experience and its relative merits over what i spend 60% of my life doing.

the book was light – lighter than i would expect from its size, or perhaps it was just the excitement that i had in holding and possessing it – balancing it in my arms, positioning it just as i liked – allowing the sight of it to fill my gaze.  it possesses a classic design, hardly to be improved upon in 500 years… how do you improve upon perfection?  its spine yielded in the most inviting manner, bending and flexing to my touch without effort and with provocative eagerness.  the silken smoothness and softness of the contents within excited my fingertips and i marvelled at the luxurious feel as i reveled in its touch – the suppleness of the sheets – so very very different than the hard cold plastic that those same fingertips are subjected to continuously throughout the day.  as i turned the pages and laughed aloud in the subway train, i was so enthralled with the entire tactile, sensual, romantic experience… these words and these pages that would forever hold their shape, would forever whisper the same words to me, would forever be bright and clear and vital, and would forever caress my hands with their inviting smoothness and softness.

i used to organize all of my appointments and contacts in a daytimer, but i’ve been thinking of moving to a fully electronic system of organizing my life – a palm pilot or a blackberry or an iphone.  after 15 pages of my new book, i’ve decided to forget that plan and go back to books.  and i wonder how many other people out there could feel this way about the simplest thing?  and after re-reading this post, i’ve also decided that i need a cigarette. 

– g

luddite song-of-the-day:  eleanor rigby, the beatles