the ghost in the machine

Paper books are a nuisance. They have weight, they collect dust, they take up space, you have to cull them all the time or move to bigger houses, & they come with a preposterous claim to some of the value of the texts they contain: but once you’ve bought them they’re on the shelf. Nobody can take them back. Neither does the bookshop owner continue to inhabit them–& your house–in that creepy 90s-internet-bubble way we’ve come to know & not love. I’d rather store a lot of dead trees than have someone who claims to be human but would fail the Turing test slinking about among my stuff in the dark then sending me fatuous authoritarian emails in the morning. I don’t like to borrow books. I like to own them.

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Filed under barely believable, books & reviews

10 responses to “the ghost in the machine

  1. matthew brandi

    With the world as it is, I share your preference for owned paper.

    Being a hopeless utopian, I’d like a future in which we all had access to everything written without having to own physical things. Access not reliant on our beloved ‘vendors’, and future-proofed at least as well as a warehouse full of slowly degrading paper. Ownership comforts us in our fear, but the desire to own makes our skin crawl, too, no?

    Wages for writers? An end to intellectual property?

  2. Brendan

    Also see: when you have no power for 5 days and you watch your devices flicker toward death.

  3. martm

    We can barely make out what’s to come: the technology’s bound to take off in a martingale pattern. Within ten years, it’s easy to imagine generative tales that change each time you log onto them, an edition of “Finnegans Wake” where every word is hypertext, or interactive variations that can build personal diaries into a developing narrative to give it that “familiar” feel. I suspect “fixed” narrative will thrive beside these forms, just as live folk or jazz goes on beside the compact disc – but as Ballard foresaw, we may well be the last generation to “read” in its literal sense.

  4. I wonder if the FaceBook generation learn how to create images in their minds. . . can they daydream, woolgather and fantasise just for the hell of it? I don’t think our minds are naturally digital. . . and despite being an Apple enthusiast, I have never used any kind of computer programme I respected the following morning.

  5. matthew brandi

    … and now, as so often, I wish I’d kept a semi-dignified silence.

  6. MichaelO

    I have paperbacks twenty years old, with covers done by vulgar inglorious hacks with 20-watt talent dim about the content. The pages are a gray cunt-hair above newsprint. Hundreds of them, they sit like Clark Ashton Smith idols on my shelves, unwilling to be dismissed. I hate the shady transience of electronic media.

  7. Matt ridley

    Totally agree, l love books and the furniture which goes with them. I think it’s worthwhile to make or at least design your own bookcase. Made one out of old oak floorboards, best thing l’ve ever made.

  8. MichaelO

    Unlike many I don’t enjoy being comforted in my fear; cramp-crawling through narrowing downward tunnels, running through a backyard full of winter frozen razor sharp bacala filets, eating random overly pink tripe from a pushcart near a storm drain: I welcome claustrophobia, inscrutable wounds and expressive diarrhea with firm, exited nipples.

    I do like to own things though. As the Sages of Getty Square were wont to say under former moons “Don’t touch my shit, son.”

  9. Every word is hypertext in every edition of Finnegans Wake.

  10. Moyles and moyles of the feary things.