Indian Headdress by John Dalkin (C) all rights reserved
Beauty is in the mind and soul of the bereader
Although reading a book might be a different experience every time you read it, it is still an alone experience. The different perceptions and insights we might have when reading the same book at different points in time are conjured up by the reader’s subjectivity, the fact that we are ever-changing creatures – inside and out. It is, nonetheless, an alone process. We could compare the experience to that of listening to a song being played in a very small room, and the sensory experiences that will ensue, and then playing that same song in a very large room, with entirely different acoustics. The sensory experience will certainly be a different one. The same music resonates differently in each scenario. Therefore, it could be said that it is the reader – the human element engaging with the print – that is dynamic, and not the print itself. In that sense, books are indeed limited/ing.
The old becomes the new again
There is a significant connection between ancient oral traditions and internet technology. Both systems operate via networks. There is something about the power of the eloquently spoken word. And its power exponentially increases when individuals experience the spoken word collectively. When a tribe elder gathers the young ones around a fire to tell them stories of their ancestors, I can’t help but wonder whether giving each of them a book containing the same stories would be as rich an experience. You see, it’s not just about the story itself, it’s also about the making of the fire, the way the young ones distribute themselves around the circle, with maybe the older ones sitting right and left of the tribe elder, it’s what they eat or drink during the gathering, it’s what they wear, and maybe, most importantly, it’s the coarse voice of their elder, telling them their own story almost musically, the tempo of the words, one after the other, and the curious questions that the young ones might ask, generating an increased understanding of their tribal identity, of their unity as a group – a network of people.
“As he looks back at archived tribal pictures and sees his young face in the crowd of elders, Pinkham, now 30, understands. ‘I realized it wasn’t something I waited for, it was the development of the mindset that goes along with our people,’ says Pinkham, tribal ethnographer for the Nez Perce Tribe.” Wyatt Buchanan
Books – them selfish creatures
It may be that the internet – the inter(action) via the net(work) – purports just that connectivity among people, and that can be as powerful as the tribe gathering around the ritualized fire. It might be that once people truly realize how extremely powerful and transformational a tool the internet is in its core, the more digital literacy will become a reality in people’s lives. And that’s where ‘books’ is making us ‘stupid’. If we consider the ability to network, to successfully connect with other individuals and have one’s brain expanded by the learning that results from the engagement, as a critical element of digital literacy, then books might really be doing just that – making us ‘stupid’ in our isolation, alienating us from networking and (re)acquiring all of the necessary skills to thrive in today’s global tribe.
print books = linear / person <alone>
networks = rhizomatic / people >together<
“…let us put our minds together and see what future we can make for our children…”.
Nez Perce Chief Joseph
With much gratitude to photographer John Dalkin
, who kindly granted permission for me to use his astonishingly beautiful fractal/photo. Thank you, John!