ANGEL GEAR & Books

 

ANgeL GeaRrr..

 

ANGEL GEAR!!..”

Thats what she called it,

when she let the old car roll down the hills

with the gear-stick stuck in neutral.

“Saves on Petrol!” she said.

“I understand,” I said.

I did too, you see..

Spent half my life in fact it seems

Running on Empty,

or on Dreams..

Hoping by the Grace

of Gravity or Angels

that my car may reach its goal!

Oh may my Karma reach its goal!

So roll! Yeah roll!”

(That’s what I said some summer young

so very long ago..)

Now I’m singing along with the radio

to an old blues song,

singing;

I’m still here rolling

after everybody’s gone.

Yeah I’m still here rolling and everybody’s gone!”

 

Angel Gear?”

I mused, amused,

to the young lady sitting besides me,

“Sounds like some sort of..

drug.”

****

 

***

 

Book of the Week:

“The Case for Books”-Robert Darnton

(2009, pub., Public Affairs)

 

Jenny Calender: “What do you have against computers?”

Giles: “Its the smell.”

J.C.: “Computers don’t have a smell.”

Giles: “Precisely!” –Buffy, Season 1

*

 Ah yes! That wonderful smell of books. Its always been one of the aesthetic factors behind my love of the format. And you can tell a lot about a book by its smell; the fresh, crisp smell of new books, the subtle blend of aroma’s from some lovingly stored ancient hardcover, the rich, ripe tones of the leather-bound tome. Whereas the only thing you’d get out of sniffing a computer or “e-book” would be cancer of the pituitary gland a few years down the track from inhaling all the fire retardant chemicals and other toxic fumes such hi-tech artefacts constantly leech into the atmosphere.

Old Giles and I are not alone here with these feelings either. As this book relates, a recent survey of French students found that 43% considered smell to be one of the most appealing aspects of a book.

But is ‘the Book”s appeal really limited to the aesthetic considerations of a few old sentimentalist antiquarians and the French?

I (and the author) say NO!

The boomers and boosters of the digital revolution, those actively engaged in promoting their product, the shills and phoney e-prophets, the advertising and promotions people; these are the ones who would have us destroy old hardcopy records and convert entirely to digital format. The think tanks struggling to find a use for all this new technology that nobody really wants or needs. Always the real emphasis is the struggle to get consumers to buy the next upgrade. Anyone who resists is labelled a Luddite. An enemy of progress and growth. A goddamn hippy tree hugger, too primitive to cope with the technological glories of the new age. Surely there is a place for the dgitalformat, but as a supplement to traditional hard-copy formats.

I remember when they were replacing records with CDs and how we were told about this wondrous new format which would never scratch and never degrade, that would sound so much better than old fashioned wax records for ever and ever. Yes, well we all know the truth now. You might copy your records to cd, but you don’t throw away the long lasting orginal.

I have forty year old records that, bar the odd scratch, still play well. Cd’s are increasingly problematical after ten as we all know.

The rush to destroy old records and replace them with digital storage is fraught with perils. But perhaps this is a way of sifting out the crap. The important stuff will always end up in a book, or printed at least. But will the print be preserved? Darnton gives heartbreaking accounts of many libraries rush to transfer to microfiche in the nineties whilst destroying old newspapers and magazines, the primary documents, in the process.

Some stuff no doubt, can well be forgotten. Lets not forget the cautionary tale of the Man Who Couldn’t Forget!

Can’t recall his name now but he had a stage act around the end of the ninteenth century revolving around his phenomenal feats of memory and mathematical calculation. Apparently by some quirk of brain chemistry , he never forgot anything, and could memorize and spiel off long lines of figures to the nth degree. Eventually, of course, he was driven mad by all the accumulated useless facts & figures that piled up in his brain over the years and blew his brains out. so clearly we don’t want to remember everything, but the rub of course, is how we decide what’s worth remembering, that needs to be preserved.

Microsoft et.al. of course don’t want you to have an artifact that will last for generations. Their ideal option is a product you rent from them that self destructs after 3 goes, so you have to pay for it again and again..

Every few years or so the tech-boosters try and come up with the idea that the book is dead, and that this, their latest product will replace it. It has yet to happen. Perhaps the e-book has its place alongside real books, cheap text books for poor students for example. But I can’t believe most people would want to read an e-book by preference, or that such tecno-trinkets will ever entirely replace the ‘printed on paper’ artefact..

How long does “a book” in an e-book last? Sure you can periodically back up, make copies (if the copyright software lets you). but that takes more time, more money, more resources out of your life. A book will sit there on your shelf, till old age and silverfish take their toll. Each takes a leisurely approach and can be mitigated.. or fumigated..against.

Plus consider the excessive consumption involved in producing an ebook. All those factories to make the components and to assemble and transport them. All that energy consumed. All the power to charge the batteries. How long does the machine itself, the e-book tablet, last and what to do with it when its dead. All that toxic fill to be disposed of, chemicals leaching into the water tables.

Lead from dead batteries bleeding back into the food chain. Yes, how long does the machine itself last? How long will its current digital format half life be? How long will the company that made the-book last for. How long will Google last ? What is the average shelf-life of a media company? Indeed, how long will Word Press last my friends? What happens to all these words of wisdom then? Better hope someone downloaded them and printed out a hard copy.

Yes, in terms of longevity “the Book” has a long lead over any digital format and it also has one further long term advantage over the e-book. When eventually the paper book becomes so old and decrepit it can no longer be read, you can toss it in the garden and it makes good compost. Grow tomatoes there maybe. But bury a broken down e-book or computer or laptop there and the soil is tainted for over fifty years.

So instead we ship them by the billions back to the rubbish tips of Asia where the children of the poor are slowly poisoned as they scavenge there for the lead.

Each of the essays in this book sets the mind to wandering speculatively. Download it into your optic nerve today.

 

*****

The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet

and an Ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists.

********

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~ by reverendhellfire on August 29, 2010.

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