Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Monday, November 23, 2009

the disappearance of all things human

Finally, a reasonable, measured, intellectual substantive critique of electronic books, from Alan Kaufman:

The book is fast becoming the despised Jew of our culture. Der Jude is now Der Book. Hi-tech propogandists tell us that the book is a tree-murdering, space-devouring, inferior form of technology; that society would simply be better-off altogether if we euthanized it even as we begin to carry around, like good little Aryans, whole libraries in our pockets, downloaded on the Uber-Kindle. . . .

Not since the advent of Christianity has the world witnessed so sweeping a change in the very fabric of human existence. . . .

Heinrich Heine, the early 19th century German Jewish poet, wrote: "Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people." The advent of electronic media to first position in the modern chain of Being—a place once occupied by God—and later, after the Enlightenment, by humans—is no mere 9/11 upon our cultural assumptions. It is a catastrophe of holocaustal proportions. And its endgame is the disappearance of not just books but of all things human.

I don't think any comment on this is possible — or necessary — except to say that one should never underestimate the cultural reach of Godwin’s Law. Thanks to Daniel Green for the link.


  • Michael Straight said...

    Awesome. Also from the article:

    "Maybe they are right. Perhaps I am crazy."

  • Neat. Is it worth pointing out to Kaufman that I was only able to read his carefully thought out argument thanks to a nearly endless series of technological inventions and devices, and had it been lovingly bound in printed form the number of readers could be counted on less than one hand?

    No? No, you're right. Probably not worth it.

  • Bookstores may be closing and the book may be retreating in the face of electronic media, especially video, but I have a hard time imagining books going the way of the dodo. They're too utile. Clearly, Kaufman overstates, and his allusions do him no credit either.

  • Godwin, a maker of law??? Who cares about Godwin? Godwin was a goy.By what right does he assume a mantle of atuthority on the Holocaust?


    Must dash, got to burn a few books before lunch and worship my Kindle.

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