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Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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11/23/2009

Comments

Frances Madeson

Daniel,
You’re sweet to take it so easy on Alan Kaufman and his embarrassing essay. He’s obviously having a hard time dealing with his community’s bookstore losses and maybe not thinking so rationally. It’s therefore probably not the best moment to mention to him that Self-Cantillating Torah (patent pending) I’ve got under development. You just touch the pointer to the parchment (still haptic if that’s any consolation) and the auto-Chazan chants away. But seriously, I think even Rambam would tell Alan Kaufman that The Law, its wisdom and practice encoded in the Torah, is the sacred technology; not the skin of the hapless Kosher-butchered animal it’s inscribed on. We should probably all read a little Disruptive Innovation Theory (Clay Christensen—he’s a huge Mormon, in case you were wondering) and proceed more dispassionately.

Jacob Russell

Amazon's erasing content from Kindel remains the most real concern for me. Books I can move, give away without creating any record of where they've been or who has read them. And the print won't vanish from the pages while I sleep at the click of a cursor when some agency decides they're politically inconvenient, or because they merely 'rent' the content and have the right to reclaim it for greater profit.

Someone would have to break into my apartment and physically remove my books. I can see electronic publishing as a useful suppliment, especially for material that is disposable, like newspapers--where electronic archives are sufficeint for historical records... or for much of the entertainment driven content. Remember when computers were going to get rid of paper? I walk into a Borders or Barnes and Noble, and can find little argument for the necessity of printing and binding most of what I see. The reference works I still keep a hand's reach from my desk find less and use; I could cull them by half with no loss, but novels, and even more, poetry and works of serious philosophy I want to hold, to leaf through, to mark and annotate, and to read them in natural light away from need of additonal sources of power or electrontic networks, a relatively unmediated relationship between myself and the words on the page.

David Rain

I agree that Kaufman's Holocaust analogies are tasteless, silly, and just plain distracting, but those of us who have witnessed the decline of traditional bookstores and who love books (not all of them, of course) as physical objects must surely sympathise with the article as a whole. I don't relish the prospect of a bookless world.

But one of the many trouble with literary intellectuals is that they take the pretensions of scientists and technology boosters at face value. Two observations:

(1) The notion that e-books, or e-anythings, are more "environmentally friendly" than books and paper is nonsense. Anyone who knows how computers are manufactured, and what they are made of, could state this at once. And this is to reckon without the electricity that runs them, which is most likely to come from a coal-fired power station. Why doesn't Kaufman point this out?

(2) The e-nirvana is unlikely to come about precisely because it assumes continued reliable supplies of power, precious metals, and oil-derived plastics into an indefinite future. Nobody who who knows anything about our actual ecological prospects would seriously imagine that this will come to pass.

See Richard Heinberg's Museletter No. 209 for a start:
http://heinberg.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/209-our-evanescent-culture-and-the-awesome-duty-of-librarians/

Imani

Hmph. I prefer paper books simply because they are superior physical objects-able to withstand ketchup spots, head-on collisions with floor tiles-and they attract better ownership laws ie what's mine is mine and I can do with it what I like (resell, lend etc.).

I appreciate lovely cover art and a good size font but find it harder to muster much reverence...

Very relieved to find that your blog is still up and about.

Steven Augustine

What Imani said.

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