It's Alive! 11/25/2011
I have a book.
Well, I don’t, I mean, I haven’t seen the actual physical copy of Babylon Steel yet, I haven’t held it in my hands. But it exists. It’s a thing, in the world.
This is very strange. Because suddenly, it’s real.
It hasn’t been real in the same way before. It’s existed as an idea, then as a few scribbled words in random notebooks and as a lot more words on a screen – a bunch of, what, spots of arranged light, electronic thoughts in a silicon brain. And the time will come, I think, when most books are bought and read as electronic files; that will be their ultimate stage of reality.
I admit I’m very glad to have a book that exists as a solid physical object. That was the reality of books I grew up with, and is the reality of most of the books I own or buy, still. It was my ambition, and I feel immensely lucky that it’s been realised.
But then, is a book actually real before there are readers? Which sounds rather postmodern, perhaps, but I feel there’s still another level of reality to come – the point where it’s read by someone who isn’t a friend, a member of my critique group, my agent or my editor. That’s when it not only becomes real, it becomes separate. And either people like it or they don’t. Either they notice it…or they don’t.
Now I get to see if it can survive on its own, a real thing, in a reality outside my head. And that’s scary.
Bookscan - relationship version. 11/07/2011
A disturbing aspect of e-books has just occurred to me. If most books are distributed in electronic format, how will you check people out?
Back in the day of my not terribly flaming youth, (more one-ring gas stove than flaming, really) the fact that someone did, or didn’t, have a book collection was a pretty big pointer. No books at all? They might be hotter’n a smoking pistol, but I knew any relationship was doomed from the start. But if ereaders become the new shelves, how will you know if potential partners have anything more on there than the owner’s manual?
Ah, the moment of entering someone’s territory, being left to peruse the bookcase while they went to the loo or put the kettle on. Running a quick eye over the titles, one ear open for the returning footstep. Fantasy? Good; that much in common (but if there’s more than one Gor novel, run.) SF? Also good. SF but no fantasy…hmm. Potential arguments over the worth of stuff not based on Real Science. Classics? Good; again, depending. Only classics? Was this person going to tell me that SF and fantasy weren’t Real Books and I shouldn’t be rotting my brain with them? Because that was never going to end well. Crime? Yes, a good sign –as long as it wasn’t a serial-killer novel lying on a table with a notebook next to it and Post-its on all the grimmest pages. And if there was nothing but Mailer, Hemingway, and some magazine with guns on the cover? Oops. Sorry, bye.
There was more to check out than just the titles, too; were the books worryingly pristine? Either a bibliophile, which meant the relationship could end over a marmite fingerprint on a formerly spotless page (plus, I’ve never been able to get my head around the idea that the physical book is of more import than the story within) or the books had been purchased mainly for show, or as gifts, and never actually been read. Lots of books, all ordered on the Library of Congress system – with spine labels? And a catalogue? There might be an issue or two there. Nothing wrong with being organised, but there’s organised, and there’s obsessive.
Without such an early warning system (even though, on at least one occasion, I ignored mine completely) I can’t help feeling that us book-loving folk will lose a massive, secret advantage in relationship decision-making.
Yoga, tool of SATAN! 11/03/2011
Yep, it's true. I just heard it on the train. I hear all the best insanity on the train. Apparently, the mere fact that yoga is connected with Eastern religions means that it's a doorway for the devil. Sit down, wrap your right ankle over your left ear, get your transcendental freak on and the very second you succeed in slipping out of your physical body, there's the Old Boy himself with a butterfly net, ready to grab your floaty soul and whisk it away to realms of eternal damnation. So the lady on the train was saying, earnestly, into her phone, as she passed on a tale of having recently snatched an unwary friend from the jaws of Yoga Evil.
Well, lawks, is all I can say. What next? What untold evils lurk in the realms of hitherto innocent-seeming alternative routines? Does acupuncture allow Satan to sneak in through all those convenient little holes in the dermis? Does holding crystals, perhaps, give him focus, acting like a magnifying glass on sunlight, permitting satanic influences to burn the goodness out of one’s soul, leaving only crisp and sooty baditude?
Anyway, I shall be jolly careful next time I buy some joss sticks, I can tell you. I mean, they probably don’t even put ‘inhaling pure SATAN’ on the label, or anything. And as for Bikram yoga, the one you do in boiling hot rooms? That’s obviously just a preparation for the fires. In fact, since I’m quite obviously hellbound anyway, what with all the alternative stuff, maybe I should try it out; it’s practically boot camp.