How the hammock and the toilet will save reading

Our last refuge in what, I must admit, feels like something of a stubborn push-and-pull between established medium and new technology, that being the printed book vs the Kindle/iPad, sways and swirls to printed book’s aid via the partnership of hammock and toilet.

Imagine yourself taking your reading material, be it, most likely, recreational novels, or daily information gathering via Web or newspapers, imagine taking that onto the recumbance of your shaded swinging hammock’s nest on a summer’s afternoon, or gripping the plastic framed glowing screen of an iPod atop the compromising and private position atop your commode.

I just can’t see it. But, maybe you’ve already transitioned.

I have no reason to feel like I should defend (or save) the printed book format. I don’t work for the publishing industry, I’m not any kind of paid lobbyist and I don’t have a book coming out…(…yet…); I’m just a romantic, I guess, and I get nostalgic for “the old world.” Are tablet reading formats just a phase, a transformative trend on the way to something even more highly advanced and comprehensive? 

I reflected on this century-old conversation/debate/concern (that things are just moving too fast or that the beauty of tradition gets obliterated with each new boundary-breaking gizmo,) whilst I was watching re-runs of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show that, I have to admit, I watch mostly for the nostalgic high it gives me for the seemingly simpler times of the early 1990’s world and it’s quaint non-hi-def-fuzzed film with all it’s earthy colored set pieces.

Anyhow, the episode following Picard’s rescue (and recovery) of his being captured by the Borg (sorry for the nerdyness), he has a heated discussion with his Earth-set brother, Robert about advancing technology.  Technology, Robert argues, is dangerous because it could destroy long-held values and traditions endemic to human society and culture. Picard argues that we shouldn’t have to lose anything by “adding a convenience…”

And immediately I think, — iPhone! And it invades and turns the nostalgia-bath-water cold. I’m out of 1991 and up to 2010 in my mind. Picard’s brother comes back that, perhaps things are already too convenient!  

I’ll say – because, how about this, instead of, perhaps on some small level, sliding onto this “trend”-ish train that motors forward towards tablet-set readings of James Patterson or Debbie MacComber’s latest – let’s not forget the mountains, seas and skies worth of material, of knowledge, of cultural creation… that lay behind us…. There are SO many books in the world (about 130 million, according to Google) – one can, if one wants, still easily have their days and nights filled by simply assigning one’s self the (albeit Herculian yet fun and exhilerating) task of returning to one’s public library and delving into the galaxy of bound pages.

But, no matter what I say, society will roll on – and without a doubt become more streamlined, more convenient, more hi-tech… Still, you’re going to need something in the lavatory or nestled with you in your hammock – and you can’t keep kindles at your night stand cuz the glow of it’s “battery charging” will keep you up – and you won’t want to get sand in its circuitry when you’re out on the beach.

But, as Picard put it, it isn’ a battle between print and electronic. “We don’t have to lose…anything…” Elevators haven’t erased our need for steps.

And we can choose how much convenience we allow ourselves. It is all based on preference. Hand me my books – I’m headed to my hammock.

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