jul 12

Kindle Kills Kool

Vanity Fair: James Walcott cries that no one will see him reading Anna Karenina on the subway, or something like that.

[Books] 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.
Argh! It's not that this form of nostalgia is unworthy of some passing historical fascination, because I'm sure digitization actually does represent a drastic change in how we perceive cultural objects. Rather, the obvious annoyance in this sentimental prose is its complete lack of awareness of just how silly the fetishized cultural object was in the first place. Shouldn't we be suspicious of anyone who thinks that showing off your CD collection was ever really the point? Update: Continued on Snarkmarket...


I agree so much.

posted by BradOFarrell at 11:28 PM on July 12, 2009

Maybe showing it off was never really the whole point but are there people out there who have large CD or book collections and hide them? Yes, some people take pride, a lot or a little, in having collections of cultural objects. So they have large bookcases in the living room, or shelves of CDs. It might not be the whole point point but its a mistake to think that aspect isn't there.

posted by Jake at 1:42 AM on July 13, 2009

It's not only the fetishization, though there's a lot of it in there. It's that people are dragged kicking and screaming into technological progress and they can't understand all the ramifications of it.
Showing off your books or your albums is a natural human desire. I used to head over to the CD rack whenever I visited someone, and I still glance at the bookshelves. However, now that people have MP3 libraries instead of CDs, with the digitization of media, the browsing of it becomes digital too. Now I can go to their last.fm page to see what they listen to, or to their Amazon wishlist or Facebook's LivingSocial/Books app to see what they're reading.
It's not that people no longer show off their fancy books and indie music. It's just that they're doing it through other channels.

posted by Avner Kashtan at 5:28 AM on July 13, 2009

I have three volumes of Proust on my bookshelf to glower down on visitors and terrify them. I;m even thinking of putting a stickee on the Vol. I what I read it three times. Can't do that with a Kindle

posted by Richard Erle at 11:57 AM on July 13, 2009

I truly believe that one day we will see Kindle's with LED displays that either advertise what we are reading, if we want them to, or display messages from our blogs, our facebook status, or our Twatter feeds.

posted by Douglas at 12:45 PM on July 13, 2009

This from the guy whose blog could easily be renamed Fetishized Cultural Objects?

posted by jchild at 4:46 PM on July 13, 2009

Reading for personal-branding purposes, James? I think you're doing it wrong.

(However, losing paperbacks definitely does cut down on the books' abilities to brand themselves.)

posted by sjb at 5:50 PM on July 13, 2009

you're kidding, right?

posted by peterHDK at 10:11 PM on July 13, 2009

Everybody who craves to be noticed that much is clearly not paying attention to what he's reading or else has been reading the wrong books.

This effete, middlebrow narcissism in the arts and letters press is becoming a little too embarrassing.

posted by James at 8:10 PM on July 14, 2009

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