books

Freedom

Freedom

"I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality."

~ Ursula Le Guin

Dark Unopened Books

In the Library
by Charles Simic, from Sixty Poems   

          for Octavio

There's a book called
"A Dictionary of Angels."
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She's very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

Animated Prose

Using around 3,000 still images, Andersen M Studio has animated an extract from Maurice Gee's novel, Going West, for the New Zealand Book Council...

Colenso BBDO commissioned Andersen M Studio to create this stop-frame animation, which took around eight months to complete. The film was designed and animated by the studio's Line Andersen and photographed by her brother, Martin, who set up Andersen M Studio in 2000.

"The entire film is handmade, using only 10A scalpel blades and paper," explains Martin Andersen.

~ Creative Review (11.30.09)

See also: Altered books (Wikipedia)

Web Freedom isn’t Free

From “Living Singles,” by Virginia Heffernan, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Feb. 27, 2011:

The market for narrative nonfiction shrank not because people got dumber or lost their attention spans; narrative nonfiction, like so many 20th-century forms, fell on hard times when the Web came along, and readers stopped paying for content…

…When the iPhone first appeared, followed by the Kindle and then the iPad, it became clear that e-books and apps provided a way to siphon the resources of the Internet to individuals, who could now sample that energy without having to be vulnerable to the Web’s commercialism. That was an enormous breakthrough. Anyone who’s honest with herself knows that the Web stopped being a great place for consumers of culture a year or two ago. You think you’re reading the Web these days, but it’s reading you — gathering data on you, trying to sell you stuff, pushing you to other links. On the Web, reading is shopping. And sometimes you don’t want to shop.

kindle-coffee The Kindle in particular brought me the first moment of peace from Web noise that I’d had in a long time. True, I thought I loved the Web noise when the only alternative was to recede into analog culture — but I have adored the silence I’ve found on the Kindle.

I never thought I’d back off the Web, but I have. The once-glorious freedom of the Web was not free. Its price is a bone-deep commercialism that cannot yet be circumvented. For convenience, comprehensiveness and social life, I still visit, but now I see these visits as at least as risky and irritating as they are liberating and exhilarating.

Read the whole essay here…

PS I’ve really enjoyed this column and am sad to see it go. Visit ArtsBeat to keep an eye on Virginia Heffernan’s eyewitness traffic reports from the intersection of media and technology.

Don’t Look to Be Saved

Volkszählung (Census), by Anselm Kiefer, 1991“The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They're Caesar's praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, 'Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.' Most of us can't rush around, talk to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven't time, money or that many friends. The things you're looking for…are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”

~ From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

 

No Other Meaning

The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm
by Wallace Stevens, from Harmonium

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

[Thanks Mark!]

To Find Another Way

From “Kindle Armageddon: How the Publishing Industry Is Slitting Its Own Throat,” by Dan Agin, Huffington Post (Feb. 14, 2009):

“Once upon a time, the only books that existed were books copied by hand by monks and scribes and sold to the very rich for the equivalent of $5000 or $6000 a book. Then along came the printing press, and all the monks and scribes had to find another way to earn their bread.

Once upon a time the only books that existed were books on paper made by printing presses and sold to the rich and not so rich and not rich at all for enough money to make publishing houses worth hundreds of millions of dollars, enough money to pay high salaries to publishing executives. Then along came the digital book, and many thousands of people in and around publishing had to find another way to earn their bread.

The subtext of the story is the impact of technology on culture and commerce, and the unfailing collapse of any industry that allows itself to be blinded by sloth, short term greed, and general mediocrity of attitudes.”

More…

[Thanks Kit!]

Destination Bookstores

Here are nine bookstores that are worth a trip according to Beth Harpaz, Travel Editor for the Associated Press. Read the details on the USA Today site. I didn't specifically build a trip around them, but I've somehow been fortunate enough to make it to all of these except the ones in Florida and Arkansas. From Rachel Leow's A Historian's Craft blog

Here are a couple of international additions to her list:

Shakespeare & Co.Shakespeare & Co.
Paris

Librophiliac Love Letter

"Everyone has some kind of place that makes them feel transported to a magical realm. For some people it's castles with their noble history and crumbling towers. For others it's abandoned factories, ivy choked, a sense of foreboding around every corner. For us here at Curious Expeditions, there has always been something about libraries. Row after row, shelf after shelf, there is nothing more magical than a beautiful old library."

Abbey Library St. Gallen, Switzerland

A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries