December 20, 2008

Reading & Writhing

I've been catching up on articles published over the summer about Nicholas Carr's Atlantic essay and's Kindle. Just finished Christine Rosen's New Atlantis piece, "People of the Screen," which is another dire jeremiad wailing against the death of the book. Here's a sample:

The book is modernity’s quintessential technology—“a means of transportation through the space of experience, at the speed of a turning page,? as the poet Joseph Brodsky put it. But now that the rustle of the book’s turning page competes with the flicker of the screen’s twitching pixel, we must consider the possibility that the book may not be around much longer. If it isn’t—if we choose to replace the book—what will become of reading and the print culture it fostered? And what does it tell us about ourselves that we may soon retire this most remarkable, five-hundred-year-old technology?

First of all, why do these people who staunchly hold up the guttering torch of print literacy write so poorly? Second, I dispute this article right from sentence one: "modernity's quintessential technology" is by no means the book; by definition it has to be a technology that revealed the cultural trauma of the modern age and tried to somehow make sense of it, a technology one uses for taking the bits and pieces of a now-ruptured social and trying to make some semblance of a whole from them -- it's the collage.