I have started a little site to record and focus a series of explorations in technology and the path of reading in a post-book age. I hope to range widely through cultural, scientific and technological material. The site is schroedingersbox.wordpress.com, and the first post goes like this …
Book Vs. eReader: The Quantum Gist
To find a path to uncertainty, Schroedinger’s Box and Quantum theory, a little cultural background is in order. Today, devices for managing this interface, old and new. Next time, the implications for the development of Quantum Theory. Which are you going to choose? The book?
To keep your interest, this device for programming your mind comes in many colours and textures.
You can continually refresh your book identity with the illusion of newness.
The book itself is a representation of your body, but a body made into a mind object.
By monks. You contemplate it. It is a mirror.
Note the Christ on the left: mind and body in one. That’s the idea.
You contemplate it. There are two ways of doing that. You can do it to something. For instance, you can think about the body of the book intently and at length, or you can just think intently and at length for spiritual reasons, without it being about the book. In the first case, you are absorbing the form of the book. You become the form, or, rather, lay down a template of bodily form in your mind, which will then fill, according to its shape.
(The glass is the book. It is ready to receive… but don’t try putting the wrong thing in there.
It won’t take. You’ll wind up having to remove it.)
This is one of the dangers of book programming. Its fit with the world is imprecise and biased towards textuality.
In comparison to a physical giraffe, the above representation (or reading) is much like the image below, to be used by children, who get to “colour it in”:
They use a physical representation of embodiment (training the body to become the book), which looks like this:
For people who have become books, it is a lifelong pursuit, as the technology of transposing the book self in the place of the world requires continual refreshing.
The book tries to make the experience enjoyable and new.
In the second case, you are meditating on the content specifically, and letting it wash over you or fill you. This is called “reading”, but it might be called “being written”, as the matter of the book is being laid down in your memory.
If you open it, you get stuff like this:
As you can see, the individual pages of the book are a series of screens, each of which represent the same materialization of spirit as the book as a whole. The example below is the same as the one above. The content is interchangeable.
It’s like fractals. To refresh your mind, here’s a definition:
A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. Wikipedia.
Romanesco Broccoli: A Natural Fractal. Source
And then there’s the eBook. It presents itself as a book, but it’s an entirely different body. Notice in the image below how its first characteristic is not to be a body but something a body reaches out and touches.
What it touches is this:
In other words, it is touching an image of a book. It’s not just any image, however, but a particular image of the body of a book called its content, and a specific form of that content which is like an analog tape …
… which continuously unwinds past an observer, which picks up information in the unfolding time-frame dictated by the speed of revolution of the tape reels. This is an expression of Christian time, but a different form of it than seen in the book. In the book, time was represented as a continually repeated series of eternal, timeless body images, or images of incarnation. On analog tape, or the eBook, it is represented as a span of time removed from the world, and given a non-physical beginning and end, an Alpha and Omega, a Genesis and Apocalypse. This is one of the great Christian revolutions, and it is contained and promulgated in the eBook in the form of morphable, or changeable, representations of type, like this:
This is the eBook version of a human body-representation called “Treasure Island”…
The eBook image of this body contains a morphable function, which allows a varying interface. For example, the large clunky text above can be rendered smooth and, well, teeny, like this:
… and anything in-between, in three shades, and a sliding scale of brightness, to make the physical reception of the text fit varying biological characteristics or preferences of the receiving human. Nonetheless, it has replaced the fractal function of the book (a series of screens, leading from “book” down to “page” down to “paragraph” down to “sentence” down to “word” down to “earth”) with a simplified image of fractals (big text or small text), leaving the body, the “reader”, inviolate. It is, in other words, a secular reading of Christian time, which accepts as a characteristic of the universe the unrolling analog tape of the Christian story, written in the earth and not in the perceiving human body, and positing the human body as something not of the world but separate from it. (How else would it remain constant, while controlling the fractals, however simplified they may be?) Fascinating stuff. Where then, in an eReader is the human body? Well, of course, it’s right there all along:
The image above shows a variety of human bodies. You reach your finger forward (it is a kind of physical eye), right into the substance of the mind, and you use the finger to control the rate and appearance of the scroll of time. All things are representations of their age. In the case of the eReader, the content you scroll through is, understandably, given the medium, rented, not possessed, and commercial, rather than given to a body of knowledge. You won’t find an eReader in a hotel room drawer, like your heart in your opened chest.
It is not a heart. It is an interface into a collective group. A book can afford to say “I”. An eBook says “we”, a changeable term, meaning “all people who like broccoli” (for example, strange as that may be), or, more usually, “all people in the world.” “I”, on the other hand, is a scientific representation of a portable scientific point of view, which eliminates other points of view, to turn the world into a representation of its own rules — yes, the book. There are implications of this for quantum theory. More on that next time.