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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Books. I won't let you die.

I heard on NPR today that IKEA is changing their best selling bookcase into a storage unit (with doors) in response to the fact that books are starting to go the way of the 8 track with the popularity of the Kindle, Nook and all the other gadgetry.


I'm sorry, this is not a question. Books will not die. If you need to have 550,000 books in your silly, hipster record bag...then buy an e-reader. Fine. But understand, that in doing so, you are directly contributing to the collective, intellectual and cultural decline of our world community. Books are art. A delicately and intricately designed jacket cover is made to be touched, smelled and realized for it's complete and complex essence. The pages of a book are meant to yellow and age with time spent in your loving care. I have hundreds of books in my house that I have never read, here simply for the fact that they are beautiful. I am a bibliophile, and not in anyway ashamed of that fact.

If we let books go electronic, it will just be the latest in a series of social nuances that have been inexorably bastardized, never to be pure again:

Dating: eharmony,, okcupid...simple, caring, efficient ideas in their genesis; tragic in their effects. I get it. We are now busier as a people than we have ever been. Meeting "the one" has become nearly impossible, and at least, the path has become overgrown and unnavigable. But, the "solution" proliferates a new problem. There is nothing organic about meeting someone online. First of all, the user sits behind their computer, mixed drink in hand, and unfurls their master list of everything that is required in their "perfect match." Then, this is applied to the hundreds of thumbnails that come across their screen; all of which are brands, attempting to ply their wares. Both parties are entering the endeavor with unrealistic expectations, as well as representations. The basic premise is love. The path is commerce. While love and lust fill the participants, advertisements are scrolling in their periphery, "The Bachelor" is Hulu-ing on Tab 3 and the futility of meeting a flesh, soul and bone person should be obvious. Not so. Online dating is like any internet ordering experience: the variety is amazing, the price is attractive, but ultimately, what arrives on your porch is the wrong hue of green and half a size too small.

Music: I love music. I look for records that I will be excited by, and that will become the soundtracks to my life. Though, I steal music. I don't do it because I can't come up with the money for an album; I do it because I can. If you put a beer fountain in the park, while I'm running, next to the water fountain, I think I'll probably drink the beer. Why? Because, fuck you, thats why. Humans have a natural tendency, (I might be tempted to say Humans of the United States of America, but I'll generalize it so that I am not a self hating American) to do what they should not, or sin, or break the rules. Music, in its most natural state SHOULD be available to everyone. Though, it is a commodity. The internet and the new media system has taken it to become a house paint of sorts, simply tinting a moment in time and therefore, leading to a degradation in not only the quality of music, but the respect for it in general. Music has become a breath mint, making a seemingly boring, malodorous moment palpable. (FYI...I have never been so impressed by those making music as much as now, I think people are making amazing music in reaction to this vicious capital-homogenization of music. Thank you.)

Food: Our world is instant. We expect everything to be available to us five minutes ago and year round. Our food system has inevitably followed this trend and created food that has no seasonal soul, is efficient and effective, and, ultimately, requires very little emotional attachment. When I can spend 1/4 of the price on something that is also ready in 2 minutes, why would I buy vegetables, meat and spend full price and full cooking time preparing them? But alas, the "model of efficiency" is not indeed the path to health or happiness. The joy is in the journey, in the process and communal nature of preparing the food, getting to know it, having a relationship with it; before it becomes part of you. You are what you eat; and as Michael Pollan says, "You are what you eat, eats." I also believe that you live how what you eat lived. If you eat meat that has lived a terrible existence, been beaten to death and then delivered to you in styrofoam; you are destined to take on the negative energy of that food. No one can tell me that you feel the same when you eat a tomato from a plastic, clamshell package, as when you eat it still warm from the sun in your friends backyard. It's a completely different experience. We have to understand that the nature of plants and animals grown for food is not instant. Taking the time to let things happen organically is exactly where the intersection of conscientious consumption and a delicious meal lies.

So, eat your prepackaged, convection microwaved, Starbucks turkey bacon sandwich, while reading your Kindle and listen to your overproduced, autotuned, Kings of Leon album. You'll be fine. Or. Go buy a used book, go to the farmers market, cook a meal for your love, go see real music, or just make your own with a harmonica and some red wine.

I will always have a house full of beautiful books, they are my favorite little pieces of art, and I will begin reading them all. Soon.

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