Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Collapse XXIV: Books


14 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

The strangest thought hit me this afternoon: I may never buy another book again.

Do not misunderstand. It is not that I will never read another book again: my rather large library (and some of my wife's) made its way here with me and now happily lines the walls of my home. In a real sense, I do not have a library but live in one.

But if things are trending as they seem to be, I may never buy another one. Because who will make and sell them? And even if they were made and sold, where would I buy them?

I remember the transition over my life, from ordering books from book sales to small local bookstores to larger chains to national chain and then online and finally used bookstores. And now the circle may be completing.

But I am at least fortunate in that I collect books. We are but a hair's breath away from losing almost all art and culture of the last 3000 years.

Extreme, you say? Think, my friend: we have spent the last 30 plus years putting everything into the digital realm. Books? For many, they now live only on small consoles or their computers which must have power. Movies? I have a few in physical form that I can see from where I write you, but for the most part these too are now all electronic or “streamed”. They need a player as well. Music? My previous comments holds true there as well: many have some CDs or maybe their predecessors, but for most their music is totally found on the InterWeb.

But the last 30 years is troubling in another way too: we have been making our culture completely electronically and on-line. We have been making it to be interacted with and viewed online. What happens when there is not more online?

I write “we” - in point of fact, I have made nothing on-line for entertainment. And rather happily, I can entertain myself (as I know you can as well). So for those such as ourselves, the inability to access anything simply means one less thing to take away from the time we have to do so many other things.

But for millions – billions, if you count the rest of the world – their ability to entertain themselves, to learn, to express themselves is tied up in a media which may very well disappear in the blink of an eye. What will there be of their entertainment and creative impulses then? How will they amuse themselves then? Suddenly discover modes and methods of entertainment effectively banished from their worlds for years, or maybe forever?

It saddens me, Lucilius, that with our great technological achievements and all we have done, that the works of the civilizations of the Greeks and Romans, Egyptians and Aztecs, will outstrip us yet.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

4 comments:

  1. Sadly true. We'll put.

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  2. Thanks Linda! The thought had not occurred to me prior to writing, but it is completely true. We are creating a culture based on our ability to generate energy to enjoy it.

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  3. I especially liked this chapter. Very true, and something not everyone thinks about. Plus I love the idea of living in a library of my own books. :)

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  4. Thank you Leigh. It concerns me, really. Along with fact that currently, your electronic books can just be "recalled" or "removed" unilaterally. A hard copy is always here.

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