Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


I do enjoy playing with my Kindle. It is useful. I have some hundreds of great and good books on it and will never be without a book or my subscriptions (at least for four days, when the battery runs out, then I need to plug it in) because it fits in a coat pocket and is always with me. Not only is it useful, but it also gives the impression that I am reading a book (and not a computer screen), so I don’t dislike touching and holding it. This adds to the pleasure, because it resembles a book. Of course, I do love books, including touching and smelling them, because they are beautiful things in their entirety--somehow--and as we know beauty prompts something in us, and this helps in having a good conversation with the book. So you read and touch and smell a book in places like these, places meant to enhance contemplation, and your mind can’t imagine building such monuments to Kindles. If Kindles have beauty what kind of beauty would enhance it?

Discussions - 14 Comments

I appreciate the loan of a book, even from a library.

Those are beautiful libraries and I appreciate seeing them, too. I have been in the New York Public and used to haunt its branches. My favorite was on the Upper East Side and I don't know that it is there anymore. It wasn't very big, and it was dark, but beautiful, cozy, not like the libraries in the picture. Best of all, it had good books.

My favorite corners of the Butler Library at Columbia University were somewhat dark, too. I don't see it in the Librophiliac's picture collection. However, my favorite part of the Butler was not lovely at all, except for the books in it. The stacks in that library had books from forever. I would be lost down there sitting on the tile floor for hours, roaming from dusty diaries to ancient folios. The last time I was there many of the really old books weren't. I looked.

When I first moved back to Ohio there was an old library in Burton, managed by an old librarian. It is all modern, now, and as cold as a Kindle. Back thirty years ago it had dark corners, too, not just because of the dark wood shelves, but partly because the books on its shelves overflowed to the windowsills and to piles on the floor. That woman kept everything.

Once upon a time, we liked to have things made with beauty. I don't see why a Kindle, or even this laptop I am writing on, can't be made beautiful, or at least charming. I like, appreciate, my laptop and understand your liking your Kindle, for the utility and the pleasure of what is in them. As to those libraries, I think I might spend too much time gawking at their splendorous glories to enjoy the books.

Do you ever worry about the future of your splendorous glories? Books from antiquity lasted for centuries, but when all books and knowledge get 'kindelized' then future cultural treasures are only as strong as the power grids which support them. Your embrace of the technology is not fundamentally conservative enough, for in your blind gesture toward convenience of hundreds of books at your fingertips, you are in fact dooming these cultural treatsures to an uncertain future. Like newspapers, books will soon be gone.

Stertinius: Thanks. You are right. I agree with you and therefore I don't embrace ANY technology the way you imply I do (or the I way I might make it seem). It is not possible for me to give up my books, and I do not, and will not. I'm just playing with Kindle and other matters. Conservative are allowed such play and curiosity, are we not? I actually do worry that someday someone will pull the plug (etc.) and that will be that. But, I also think--in my less Hungarian moments--that human beings are not foolish all the time, so they will devise clever back-ups to save what merits saving. All people have an oral tradition (language) and that is good; then among some people writing was invented and the oral tradition suffered, and then printing was invented and the oral tradition almost came to an end. And now a certain kind of orality is back in language in part because of computers and the internet. But, to repeat. I worry. And I love books.

What about the possiblity of selective editing on the digital works? Mabye one day you call up a classic and find it to be an totaly different thing. Are those stored on a hard drive or are you streaming them in every time you open a "book."

Did you see those places? They are glorious because they are being preserved. Those are not neglected spaces. The books are being preserved, too. The reason some of the books I enjoyed in the Butler were gone was because they were being preserved in another library on the campus; archived and protected from greedy and informal readers like me.

The preservation of the ideas in electronic form is the back-up of the ancient technology of books.
Brutus, publishers of printed works have the same capability of changing or distorting classics.

Brutus: They are not streamed. They are stored both IN my Kindle, and at Amazon, in case my Kindle is lost or destroyed.

While I appreciate the architecture and space of libraries as well as the knowledge stored within them, I almost never get books from them unless necessary for my research and otherwise inaccessible. I prefer to own and caress my own books, de-flowering them at will or simply enjoying more in thought than in reality, as the novelist Robertson Davies wrote. The internet has made used book shopping remarkably easy, though also remarkably dull because it is so easy. There was little to compare to stumbling across a book you had wished to find while visiting a distant city and found yourself at a used bookstore. As for Kindle, I can understand that other people may like them, but you can count me out.

Stertinius is right. Schramm's kindle is the equivalent of his hummer or motorcycle. His consumerism results in destroying what he loves.

Stert, on the day they seek to throw books up on the ash heap of history, you and me will be on the bridge, Horatius like, gladius in hand, defying them to their worst.

And on that day, in that grim hour, I too will take up a Latin pseudonym.

My point was publishers are not going to sneak into your house and replace your classics in the night, but that fear is not there with the kindle because Dr. Schramm stated they are on a hard drive. I think real books will always be the failsafe or backup to prevent a power grid failure causing the loss of knowledge. If you rely on someone to keep some sort of a backup then you really are going to be counting on the suspicious and paranoid who have set up solar pannels or small wind mills to "stay off the grid," and both those techs are limited by the shelf life of batteries to store charges. Mabye one of the paranoids should add about a hundred pens and tablets of papers to their shelter then they can transcribe the books if a prolonged power loss happens.

Looking through the thread I realize that my first post reads like a confession about being intimate with certain libraries. Tony Williams' comment makes me feel promiscuous, a librarious libertine. I do own many books, and while I love to buy new ones and think it proper, I can't afford many. My poor husband tolerates my collecting and my literary absorption. His forbearance is not merely over the expense of books, but of the numbers. Dollar-a-bag library sales and used book stores are a means of my sinning cheaply. Libraries want their books back, which means books that leave the house when they have been read. Those only take up temporary space.

Surely, you will have noticed Google Books, but have you found the Internet Archive, which is a wonderful source for historical research and digitized versions of original documents? I use that latter source heavily in my current research and enjoy the facility of the resources.

But, Stertinius and ren, think how many trees will be saved! Don't you care about Mother Earth?

Dr. Moser, think of the carbon footprint from making the battery, hardrive, and use of electricity. That is one of the funner things about environmentalism: anything short of throwing youself off a cliff is bad for mother earth.

One Kindle to rule them all, one Kindle to find them, One Kindle to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie?

The Evil Genuis Sauronious in the second age of Bush in the year of our Ford, before the demise of GM, created the One Kindle in order to gain dominion over the free peoples of Middle-america.

The Evil Genuis Sauronious in his guise as Annatar Plubius, or "Lord of Gifts and friend of the people", aided the Elven smiths of Silicon Valley to craft the Kindles so as to save trees that the redwoods may live in peace and Berkeley be fruitfull... Sauronious then crafted the One Kindle DX somewhere in China, or Mount Doom if you must be poetic about it.

He intended it to be the most powerful of all Kindles, able to rule and control those who meditated on the others. Since the other Kindles were themselves powerful, Sauronious was obliged to place much of his native power into the "One" Kindle DX to achieve his purpose. He also had to file an international free-trade claim against the protectionist forces of Ralph Naderus who was upset that it was not smelted so as to protect the jobs of american dragon fire. So Sauronious addopted his guise of Annatar Plubius by donnating some money to a hospital ward, he also divested himself of shares of Lakshmi Mittal and made use of the networks to confuse the issue so that no one knew the difference between Indian and Chinese steel, and who had donated what to the Labor party or had what type of champaigne(California vs. France) at what lavish wedding(gold plated truffles)...Annatar Plubuis also bought Tim Geithner's house for 1.5 million, but the narrator digresses.

Creating the Kindle DX thus simultaneously strengthened and weakened Sauronious power. On the one hand, as long as Sauronious had the Kindle DX, he could control the power of all the other Kindles, and thus he was significantly more powerful after its creation than before; and putting such a great portion of his own power into the Kindle DX ensured Sauronious continued existence so long as the Kindle DX existed. On the other hand, by binding his power within the Kindle DX, Sauronious became dependent on it —without it his power was significantly diminished.

The Kindle DX appeared to be made of simple metal, unlike the flimsy looking Pink Kindles akin to fashion accessory Ipods. Steve Jobs filled suit. Sauronious challenged Apple on the grounds that the kindle was impervious and a commerical by Billie Mays included a cool demonstration with a sledge hammer. Apple lost, the Kindle was impervious to damage and pink. It could only be destroyed by being throw into the coal/dragon powered american smelting. The Kindle DX meanwhile was an unadorned burnished gold and invulnerable even to american dragon fire by virtue of its Chinnese provenance in Mount Doom (give me a break comic book nerds, or I will give you a wedgie). Unlike the other Kindles of power, the One pretty pink Kindle DX could not be destroyed by American dragon fire. The identity of the Kindle DX could still be determined by a simple test, when subject to american dragon fire, The lines from a rhyme of lore describing the Kindles would appear:

Three Kindles for the Berkeley-kings under the California sky, Seven for the Academics in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Ren doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Kindle to rule them all, One Kindle to find them, One Kindle to bring them all and in the darkness bind them In the Land where the Shadows lie.

And now you know the rest of the story...

American dragon fire was destroyed, american trees saved and Annatar Plubius lived happily ever after his Kindle DX safe from discovery. One Kindle to rule them all, one Kindle to bind them.

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