Tuesday, December 17, 2019

I'm standing in a bookshop looking for presents.

I'm standing in a bookshop looking for presents. I've been on the net all morning and as I look at the books on the shelves and the stands I find myself noticing that they don't move or blink or show pictures or scroll or link anywhere, or do any of the neat things that web pages do.

In fact the book covers suggest more about the insides of the books than actually happens. All the colorful images on the cover are often not reproduced inside. Usually there are just pages and pages of words - rows of the same letters in lines, over and over again. They just don't make a very stimulating visual image.

And I'm thinking that books are boring.

There was a time when the barrier I had to surmount in order to get into a book, was very small. I would bend my head a little, bring the book nearer, and I was into a world formed in my imagination.

Now it takes a lot to make me turn my attention to the books on the shelf waiting for me to slide between their pages.

Which reminds me of something that happened to me some years ago. I had been studying in a secluded environment with other people for months. My mind was tuned to fine points of discussion. I had the architecture of a system of ideas in my mind.

Then I went into town one day to buy a roll of film and in the store there was a large screen video. It was showing a film with Sean Connery and he was in a scene where he outwitted somebody and it ended somehow with this person hanging defenseless from a rope over the edge of a parapet. I haven't seen the film since so I can't tell you what it was.

In an instant, all the architecture of ideas in my head was swept aside and the space was filled with images of Sean Connery and a two-bit movie (sorry Sean).

And it's a bit like that with the net. Images, movement, headlines - they drive out my attention span and my appetite for surmounting the barrier I have to climb over to get down to reading a book.

And I bought a book only very recently - about Ireland from 1939 to 1945, when it stayed neutral during the Second World War. And I started it and now I have to find a way back into reading on.

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