[Humanist] 26.74 ruminations on the codex

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Jun 9 22:50:22 CEST 2012

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 74.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2012 20:41:31 -0400 (EDT)
        From: lachance at chass.utoronto.ca
        Subject: New Service for the Codex
        In-Reply-To: <20111118074353.BC292206520 at woodward.joyent.us>


This may bring a wry smile...

Bathtubs and computers don't mix and e-books would not catch on. It's a
line of defense we hear less and less given the new generation of
specialized screen readers for e-books. But there are some uses still left
for the paper-bound volumes, especially big fat dictionaries. Witness Roo
Borson's poem "Dictionary" collected in Rain; road; an open boat which
gives the reader new appreciation for an old technology.

In one corner of the room, beneath the open window, lies an unabridged
dictionary becalmed on its stand. Pressed between its pages are
buttercups, sage blossoms, several summers' lavender and rose petals, even
a small moth that fluttered in haphazardly one evening just as the book
was being closed. These mementoes have stained the pages brown, becoming
light and friable, more insubstantial over time. The book itself is a
code, a key, a lock, an implement that stands for an earlier time and
other customs, containing only those things that need not exist, but do so
nonetheless, carrying them forward as a maple seed is carried forward by
the wind.

Just what are "only those things that need not exist" remains a mystery
that is best meditated upon by turning the pages of a book or by its
equivalent — the turn to the search engine to find others who have been
captivated by the same lines.

Francois Lachance

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