Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughts on the Kindle

I had a short essay on the Meanjin blog yesterday, 'What I'm Reading (and reading on'.

Prompted by a gift from a friend, I'm thinking about my new Kindle, and what it adds to my reading and writing.  Emily Dickinson cameos.  A sample:
The Kindle has an odd purity to it. Dickinson has the same charcoal plastic frame as Aristotle or Young. eBooks have unique covers, of course, but they are not really ‘covers’ — they are just one screen amongst others, which do not physically wrap the text. In fact, most of the physical features of paper books are removed: uncut pages, embossed ex libris stamps, tooled leather bindings. Gone are different smells: pencil shavings, spilt coffee, and generic old-library funk. What remains is black text on a light grey background. 
To me, there is an intimacy to this: I am in a more immediate relationship with Dickinson, and her words. Her poetry’s curt lines — ‘A word is dead/ When it is said,/ Some say./ I say it just begins to live/ That day.’ — are even more direct. Of course I can ignore the decorations of a colourful paperback or gilt leather tome — but the Kindle makes this easier. It has a simplicity to it, which holds consciousness.

2 comments:

Gondal-girl said...

that is intriguing - as I always thought it would be a rather soulless occupation reading on an e-reader - your post has made me think of them differently ( though nothing can replace the delicious thingness of books)

Damon Young said...

'Delicious thingness' - very nice.

it has its own thingness, as I've written. But books can't be beaten for idiosyncrasy and tangibility. "My copy of Tennyson smells like mother."