Sunday Book-Thought 100

The bookish text is my home, and the community of bookish readers are those included in my ‘we.’
This home is now as outmoded as the house into which I was born, when a few light bulbs began to replace the candle. A bulldozer lurks in every computer with a promise to open new highways to data, replacements, inversions, and instant print. A new kind of text shapes the mind-set of my students, a printout which has no anchor, which can make no claim to be either a metaphor, or an original from the author’s hand. Like the signals from a phantom schooner, its digital strings form arbitrary font-shapes on the screen, ghosts which appear and then vanish. Ever fewer people come to the book as a harbor of meaning. No doubt, for some it still leads to wonder and joy, puzzlement and bitter regret, but for more – I fear – its legitimacy consists in being little more than a metaphor for pointing toward information.
Ivan Illich, In the Vineyard of the Text: A Commentary to Hugh’s Didascalicon (Chiacago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993), p. 118.

Sunday Book-Thought 88

Tortoise: You’ve undoubtedly noticed how some authors go to so much trouble to build up great tension a few pages before the end of their stories – but a reader who is holding the book physically in his hands can FEEL that the story is about to end. Hence, he has some extra information which acts as an advance warning, in a way. The tension is a bit spoiled by the physicality of the book. It would be so much better if, for instance, there were a lot of padding at the end of novels.
Achilles: Padding?
Tortoise: Yes; what I mean is, a lot of extra printed pages which are not part of the story proper, but which serve to conceal the exact location of the end from a cursory glance, or from the feel of the book.
Douglas R. HofstadterGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (London: Penguin Books, 1980 [first published London: The Harvester Press Ltd, 1979]), p. 402.