James Wolcott wonders how all this digitization of books and movies will affect the time honoured checking out of others with an eye to romance or judgment.
"Books not only furnish a room, to paraphrase the title of an Anthony Powell novel (sic!)
but also accessorize our outfits. They help brand our identities. At the rate technology is progressing, however, we may eventually be traipsing around culturally nude in an urban rain forest, androids seamlessly integrated with our devices. As we divest ourselves of once familiar physical objects—digitize and dematerialize—we approach a Star Trek future in which everything can be accessed from the fourth dimension with a few clicks or terse audibles. Reading will forfeit the tactile dimension where memories insinuate themselves, reminding us of where and when D. H. Lawrence entered our lives that meaningful summer. “Darling, remember when we downloaded Sons and Lovers in Napa Valley?” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it."
Hell, I'll admit to being a shameless watcher of others on buses, in parks etc., and yes a Mary Gaitskill spotting goes a long way to making my day. Alas, I've developed a numbing immunity to James Patterson. It'll be a hell of a lot harder to approach a potential paramour without seeing that book jacket that one is so familiar with, trying suavely to sidle up to the gentle reader and make use of your shared love for their book to break the ice and perhaps build a life (or an evening) together, but that's just one more reason to dread the digital revolution.
Posted by David