“… nothing is more unbearable, once one has it, than freedom.”
And nothing is more imponderable, once we sense it, than eternity.
As a child learning about the universe, I gripped my mother’s arm and said, “Forever never stops!”
Our lives are finite, but life is infinite.
A popular way to resolve this tension is to create false “end times,” when the world as we know it will “come to an end” — and “forever” will stop. The latest of these fads is 2012, but other “ends of the world” have included 30 C.E., 1000, 1843, 1844, 1914, 1919 and 2000.
Since these promises of apocalypse have yet to be fulfilled (and I personally wouldn’t hold my breath) the next best way to “kill eternity” is through fad and fashion: “THIS style,” people declare, “Is over.”
Modernism is “over; “ even post-modernism is “over.”
Yet, people pay huge sums of money to acquire art of the modernist era, and students continue to read and love modernist literature.
When Apple introduced its first model in the mid 1980s, the artsy hoi polloi cried: “Painting is dead!”
Yet everyone I know either owns an original painting or a poster reproduction of one.
In the early 2000s the music industry arguably transformed. But still, my teenage nephews love the Beatles as I did.
The latest death cry has come from our own industry, publishing.
A pretentious ex of mine declared: “Soon every book will be an executable file!”
Two weeks later, I attended Book Expo and saw miles of paper books displayed.
Last week, best-selling author Seth Godin wrote in The Wall Street Journal about his plans to produce and market books directly for his readers. And yesterday, the New York Times weighed in on the presumed battle between ebooks and paper books.
To me, such avowals don’t foretell the end of paper books and traditional publishing so much as the introduction of choice and simultaneity.
Perhaps my prognosis is less dramatic than “Book Publishing Apocalypse Now.”
In the blog posts that follow I will explore the more subtle and perhaps likely implications of these changes in our industry.