The old fashioned print media - books, magazines, newspapers - all passe. The pundits, from their TV pedestals, have announced the death
of reading. It’s the internet, they say. Or the movies, the TV,
maybe. But a more comprehensive explanation is that decades ago -
only the written word and the reality of life itself portrayed our
time on earth and all its bittersweet components. Death, love, envy,
cupidity, greed, lust, success, could only be experienced in the pages
of a book, your imagination or in reality.
A few decades back, If you wanted to see beloved Uncle Jack pass away and share the emotional throbs of his loved ones? Read about it. Or
suffer it. Want to see Galahad parry and thrust with evil? Read a
book. Want to see goodness shine and change a crummy world? Read a
book. Want to see Gwenivere pass away in the arms of Sir Randolph?
Read a book. But who needs a book now, I can see it, hear it, with no
exertion of mental image making. And the entire world is my stage.
Nowhere else was the vicarious depiction of life’s joys, sorrows, and in-betweens given to us except in a book. Only those rare lives
played out on a huge stage could boast such drama in reality.
How many readers in 1882 had crossed swords with a foe, found a buried treasure, dodged the flaming breath of a dragon? Not to mention lying
beside Princess Matilda and caressing her snow white limbs. Ah, the
movies were the first trespassers on reality. They wrecked the spell
of those rectangles of bound pages. Then TV. Every emotion, every
cycle of life, every incidental flick of life’s pen was drawn ten
thousand times in a single TV series.
Well, today these and ten thousand other experiences are on TCM, NBC, and ABC all day long. You’re bored silly with deadly contests,
verbal battles, lovemaking, life-changing decisions, birth and death -
all the flickering faces of life. And as for the height of the Andes
at Pegona, ignore your ten pound tome and punch Google. Books no
longer are the monopolists of life and knowledge. Finally, the
internet and TV and electronic mines of knowledge yet to be imagined
deliver the Coup to Gras to the book.
However, having said all this let this crusty curmudgeon admit that the Encyclopedia Britannica - if I walk into the den, find the volume,
extract it from the bookshelf, walk it to the table, and look up Andes
- does a better job than Wikipedia. But come to think of it -
Britannica’s on the web, too. Technology in general has emptied our
The humor of Ted, the Scribbler on the roof, appears in newspapers around the US, on National Public Radio, and numerous web sites.