Tuesday, December 09, 2014

An Unexpected Rush

I ordered this book after I read a review of it, but before I even opened the package I felt a peculiar thrill just from the sight of it.  It was heavy and solid in my hands, and I could feel the book's edges and binding through the brown wrapping.  It took me a short while to understand what was going on in my mind.......a book.  A book with substance, with a hard cover and with pages that could be turned.  It dawned on me that all my reading for quite some time has been on my Kindle. I have grown accustomed to its somewhat ethereal way of presenting the text that disappears with the touch of a button.  I have no expertise with the thing, and various messages often appear, seemingly random bits of information I didn't ask for.  If I lose my place, there are no page numbers to help me find it again. 

The digital world is so immediate, and each moment seems to exist by itself, a pin prick of time.  I first became aware of this when people stated wearing digital watches.  It's a completely different way of seeing time.  A clock sees the whole day at once with the hands moving through it.  One can't help but see the big picture, looking at a clock.  The present is seen in the context of a whole.  It can be almost two o'clock instead of 1:48.  It is clear on a clock that it was one thirty recently and that it will be two o'clock very soon.  I still have to translate digital clocks in my mind to orient myself in the day.  The idea of an hour, or a morning, seems difficult to conceive when every minute disappears almost as soon as one can grasp it, to be replaced by a new present, also in the process of fleeing as soon as it registers in the psyche.  I know that people brought up in my children's generation have no trouble with any of this.  They are able to hopscotch from one minute to the next and keep their balance.  I think people think differently in this digital age.  I have no opinion about whether one is better than the other.  Things always evolve, and the world is in quite a mess doing things the way my generation is doing them.

Well, quite a departure from my original thought about the book.  I adore this book without even opening its cover.  I love how the whole text is available at once, how the weight of the book feels in my lap, how the pages turn, but, like the minute on a clock, can still be reviewed at will.  The book is real in a way that the same text on my Kindle isn't.  I possess it.  It's mine, here, not floating invisibly  in the air, indifferent.  I am a slow reader, savoring every word.  It's a big book.  I have a lot to look forward to.

1 comment:

P. J. Grath said...

You have made me very happy this morning. Besides your joy over the book (a book I love and reviewed and which my husband is now reading, slowly savoring the contents of its opening chapter), I love your reflections on digital vs. -- what to call the old-fashioned kind of clock or watch face? Well, what you say about seeing the whole of the day on the old clock face, and the moment within the whole -- the moment in context, as it were -- echoes what my friend said (and I quoted on my blog) about a GPS voice vs. an atlas. Unlike you, I cannot resist making value judgments: if our generation did poorly with the "big picture" at hand, how much less chance is there for an upcoming generation to do better, given only points and moments and events out of context?

But I'm thrilled that you are thrilled with the book! You will only be more thrilled as you begin reading.