For the Love of Literature

I’m still doing the odd job at work, reading the newspapers and trying to find interesting articles for my boss. In doing so, I have come across many great articles that talk about literature and the debate between digital versus print/paper.

I would love to share some quotes from these articles that I personally really like and of course agree with.

First few quotes are from an article that looks into the debate between digital versus print/paper. What I liked about this article was that the author looked beyond books. The article leans towards a pro-paper stand, quoting one man stating he ‘wasn’t sure why anyone would want to live in a paperless society … what would be the point, considering roughly 60% of the world’s banknotes are paper’. (Note: I cannot remember what year this was published. I also unfortunately forgot to get the author’s name and the name of the article. I will look for both Monday and update.) He also goes on to point out that paper is an effective way of delivering information since readers can read it when they want to and don’t have to turn anything on to do so.

The article’s author also quotes Nicholas Basbanes about paper. Basbanes states “paper is light, absorbent, strong, plentiful, and portable; you can fold it, mail it, coat it with wax and waterproof it, wrap gunpowder or tobacco in it, boil tea in it. Basbanes asserts that paper isn’t just a commodity, it’s a world and worlds don’t disappear so easily.” He also reminds us that while scholars and the public are focusing on how paper is used in the office setting and how reading and writing habits are being redefined, they are forgetting about all the other paper that surround us. (Note: I am hoping to also figure out which of Basbanes books these quotes came from.)

I remember sitting at the table dumbfounded, just staring at that particular passage for a moment. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t realize or remember that paper is used for more than just as an ingredient for a printed book. It was definitely a ‘slap on the forehead’ moment.

Basbanes also makes a good point that keeping a hard-copy is still a central part of bureaucratic culture, one that will most likely endure through the rise of computers and digital records. He also points out that with everything becoming more digital, there is a higher likelihood of a security breach. So, paper is essentially safer. Haha.

The other quote that I would like to share is from a professor who wrote about how in many of her literature classes she has many students who don’t speak during discussions at all. She supposes that it may be because some of her students’ first language isn’t English. She did an experiment and brought in a poem originally written Spanish and asked one of her students to read it out aloud. They then read a translated version and compared the two. The majority of the students liked the original version best, because it felt and sounded more natural. Even without fully understanding every word, the reader and listener still connects with the original words. She writes that this makes sense because “this is where we all start with language – with sound and rhythm. This is also how many of us fall in love with great literature. It mesmerizes us, like music, on a visceral level. No matter how we attempt to deconstruct it, on some level its effect cannot fully be put into words.”

That last passage that ended her commentary on is one of my favorites. I love the way she describes the way a love for literature can feel like. The written word has definitely mesmerized me more than once.


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