Making the case for preserving music on CDs.
I don’t know – I’m beginning to think that a lot of our attraction to media is because for years we got to have a THING that represented it, namely plastic discs and dead trees. Now that those are all going away it’s much easier to lose the attachment to those works – because then it’s just some kind of art form separated from a thing that held it.
When one does things like alphabetize a record collection, like I did for years, are we really celebrating an art form or are we just obsessive about our possessions?
For years I had told myself that I liked having a physical format for music, movies, and books. But today I look around at all this stuff and think of how much space they take up and how it will be a pain to move them if/when I move. “Music is timeless,” I told myself. “Art is timeless.” If so, then how come I rarely go back to most of them? If so, then how come there are such things as albums that work better on a CD or on Vinyl?
As I get older I see that these things from my youth that I told myself were very important, that spoke to me, were merely just what was available at the time I was growing up. Musicians like to talk about how music can speak to you, about how a song can hit at a time in your life when you need it. Weezer’s Blue Album is important to me because it came out when I was in junior high and I listened to it a lot. But if I came up during a different time wouldn’t it just have been some other album? Would the Beatles have gotten as big as they did if they weren’t marketed heavily to tons of up-and-coming baby boomers?
At its best, all this media can be something that speaks to you, but it can also be a reminder of who you once were or believed you could be. At its worse, they’re just things in a box taking up space in your new life.
This article is so long I had to send it to my Kindle.
I read a lot more ever since I got a Kindle. Best decision I ever made for my self-education.
Articles like this put you in a tough spot. Who do you root for? Readers or publishers and authors? The company that making reading more accessible or these major publishers who are going to get gobbled up through software?
The Awl on Morrissey’s autobiography
The literary canon is a largely imaginary list. (Also an expected one. When Encyclopedia Britannica rebooted its “Great Books of the Western World” series in 1990, it added zero works by people of color and works by only four women to its canon.) And while “classic” may be a nebulous term, in a published classics series, we have a set of material artifacts, thousands of them, all uniformly dressed—”in the familiar black livery” as Tonkin described it—all standing neatly in a row. Tonkin said he believed “that black jacket will still lend” the Autobiography “an unearned aura.” Is it that he just hasn’t earned it yet, baby? Or do we truly believe putting a Penguin on the cover of a book instantaneously confers status upon it?
Looking at those old, beloved covers made me wonder: How come books for kids get to look so mysterious and tantalizing and spooky, while books for us grownups have to be so dull? Why don’t the covers of mainstream literary books make me feel that same way—almost scared to find out what’s inside?
Yeah? Where did all the illustrations go?
Perhaps one explanation for “Dune” ’s lack of true fandom among science-fiction fans is the absence from its pages of two staples of the genre: robots and computers.
Or, perhaps, Dune is overrated and today’s readers can’t get past the first 50 pages of meandering and rambling.
MadGeniusClub emphasizes the importance of story over message in today’s literary landscape.
The corollary to this is: why is publishing in trouble? Because it forgot that readers, on the whole, read to be entertained and to forget about their troubles.
Don’t believe me, ask yourself why so many in publishing are trying to convince us that boys don’t read. Oh, I think there are those who sit in their ivory towers in NYC who actually believe that. Why? Because they look at the sales for their middle grade and YA books and see that the majority of those buying their books are girls. So, therefore, boys don’t read.
During my childhood the message that reading was important was drilled into my head. There were saturday morning cartoons about it.
Then what does the publishing industry come out with? Vampire novels and books about dungeon-sex tell-alls. Boys have had to dig back in time towards Ishmael and open up
comic books graphic novels.
Who else was in the book club? You guessed it. Frank Stallone.
What was the last great book you read? Did you read it when you were a kid?
Even as fully grown adults we remain secretly starved for guidance and instruction. Many of us are walking around with the uneasy feeling that we missed the first day of class and wondering if there are CliffNotes. Most people desperately want someone to tell them what life’s about, what people are for, what we’re supposed to do–how to be a human being. But serious literature, at least since the 19th-century, has been disdainful of fulfilling any didactic obligation. Sorry, kids, that isn’t what art is for.
Now that publishers and retailers can measure exactly the kinds of things that cause people to buy they can give the marketplace what it really wants.
You know…stuff like 50 Shades of Grey, the literary equivalent of a Zynga game.
I saw this and thought of doing that thing where people go “Created an account just to add Confederacy of Dunces to this list.”
Fortunately I didn’t need to do that.
Lisa Lewis writes about how it’s harder to flirt with guys when there’s a Nook or Kindle logo staring back at her.
I wondered why people take their books out in public, but then I tried it and found that it’s much easier to get involved and focused in a book away from home. I’ve never gotten a date out of it, but in 2004 some guy at the laundromat asked me about the Al Franken book I was reading.1
Maybe that counts.
Colin Marshall and Ulin discuss Ulin’s new book, The Lost Art of Reading.
I enjoyed the discussion about halfway through the interview about how novel reading is taught in high school english classes.