Reading A splendor of letters this morning, I came across a passage talking about fathers handing on book collections to their sons- in the context of Walter Mehring. It put me in mind of William Wisner’s meditations on the same subject. The idea being that the libraries represent not only what was read, but the whys and whens.
How will we pass on our literary collections? As books, as libraries, with the marks of our reading on them? As places and spaces where our children can walk and touch what we touched; follow our choices, wonder at why this boook? As collections of things? Or will we pass them a chip, a set of files, a pageflake writ large?
As we move to digitalisation and e-books, however long that takes, what will we lose when we lose tangibility? Will the gains of the digital world offset them; can we make new ways to engage with literature without ‘things’?
I would hope that we can find new ways of engaging with, and passing on, the experience of reading. Perhaps the emergence of social computing will help with this, preserving something of our interactions with words. But I can’t help but feel sad at the future loss of words printed on ‘dead trees’. Burt those who grow up without books will not feel that lack; I hope.
The spider weaves the curtains in the palace of the Caesars