When the Internet was born, they said traditional books would soon die out, but so far the opposite has happened. People are buying and reading more books than ever. E-books, though easily accessible, have not caught on as readily as expected. I think it’s partly because they simply are not as satisfying as a real book you can hold in your hands and sit by the fire all cozy and lovely, while another world comes alive with the delicious turning of real pages.
I went to a poetry reading in Berkeley last night. I thought it was an open reading, so I brought some of my poems. It wasn’t. It was a group that meets once a month to read poetry from books, anything from Keats to Dickinson to Ferlinghetti, nothing too “edgy” or avant-garde. It was a small group of adults with knowledgeable tastes. It was old-fashioned and surprisingly refreshing.
We read from thick anthologies and thin paperbacks of individual poets we personally liked. I read from Wilfred Owen, a rather obscure poet of World War I, whose very beautiful poetry was the first to use consonantal rhyme. He was a significant trailblazer, though he was not recognized for this in his lifetime. Most of the credit for this went to a more well-known but much less innovative contemporary named Sassoon, who urged Owen to return to the battlefield at the front lines, where he was mortally wounded and died.
I still love books, real books. Solid physical-entity books with hardcovers and paper pages sometimes old and gilt-edged, sturdily bound, built to last.
Books are important to the future of the world for a lot of reasons, but the first one that comes to me is that they connect us to some of humanity’s finest moments, deepest feelings, and highest thoughts, so that those are not lost.
Real books are not trivial. Real books are not temporary, not made to be disposable like Styrofoam cups and razor blades and 90% of what’s on the Internet today, mostly “throwaway” art and culture, existing only in thin air or the flickering flash of the small screens of cold, hard, “devices.”
E-books are useful of course, entertaining, informative, or educational, but they serve a limited temporary function and then are automatically discarded when the screen goes dark.
Real books, living physical-entity books, have an inherent permanence that few things in our world have today. Style, legend, and legacy are easily lost on the Internet, swallowed up and drowned in the ocean of minutiae, trivia, intelligentsia, jibber-jabber, in the rude, “edgy” and soulless fashion of our culture, in which there is too much of everything, and so, as much as possible is designed to be disposable and as brief as possible. “How RU? Im fyn.C U latr” Sorry, that’s not enough for me.
I don’t do trivial. I don’t do throwaway art. If that’s what you’re looking for, pass on by.
Read some stories: http://w2w.victoriachames.com/sampler.html