Rip Out the Binding, Tear the Glue
There’s a minor furor in the Google Plus RPG circle on which I wander around the periphery over a series of posts about a ceremonial burning of Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition, in preparation for the new fifth edition. (You may not be familiar with D&D “edition wars,” but I’m sure you can extraploate to a similar situation where fans of a particular thing that goes through multiple iterations argue loudly and fervently about which iteration is good or bad or perfect or heretical, etc.)
And then this happened on twitter:
Honestly, I think that everyone at the next Nerdly Beach Party should bring a book to toss into the fire.— Tablesaw Tablesawsen (@sawofthetable) July 29, 2014
@sawofthetable why?— Hamish (@peregrinekiwi) July 29, 2014
@peregrinekiwi Destruction by fire is a powerful personal thing. And I think many of us collect and preserve overzealously.— Tablesaw Tablesawsen (@sawofthetable) July 29, 2014
@sawofthetable Hmm. I can see that, but I would have thought giving away might be a better move than book burning.— Hamish (@peregrinekiwi) July 29, 2014
It’s probably not a coincidence that Hoarders was on in the background earlier and now I’m reexamining my relationship toward books. I’m not a hoarder, but the fear on the faces of people trying to pick which things to get rid of reminded me of the same mindlock I felt when I attempted culling my books last time I moved. It was too hard, and there wasn’t enough time for me to work my way through it, and I panicked, and all the books went into boxes.
@peregrinekiwi I have books I would hate to give even to those who wanted them, and others that would be a burden as a useless gift.— Tablesaw Tablesawsen (@sawofthetable) July 29, 2014
There were consequences to not doing so. Those books took up space and they carried an extra weight; as appropriate for books, they did so literally. The physical books that I do not need took a toll on my back, and on the bodies of my friends who helped to move them. (And I haven’t yet taken the time to do a proper culling.)
And beyond that, I have books that I do not believe are worth the trouble for anyone. I have a mass-market book with no original research that is still substantially large and heavy, because it was designed as a coffee-table book, despite a lifeless presentation. It’s not just that I don’t need this book; I don’t think anyone needs this book. And I suspect that anyone who thinks they want this book is wrong, because for a very long time, I was that person who deeply believed that they should just hold onto it for a little longer. I think that to inflict this mess of ink and wood pulp that tangentially contains some incomplete summaries of Irish genealogical information would be irresponsible. I don’t want to shift the responsibility of dispatching it onto a nonprofit organization that could instead be shelving a book of even some slim use.
But I just can’t toss it into the trash. Because it’s still a book.
I still have my first book. My copy of Where the Wild Things Are is as old, and as soiled, and as marked as you would expect. And while I feel that there’s a novelty in having that artifact, I often question why I hold onto it. The vast majority of my personal artifacts have already been worn down or given away. I don’t know how that copy would be of interest to anyone, even my own children. Now it mostly represents how hard I cling to books as other things fall away.
And there are books, too, that I think others would find value in, but that I do not feel comfortable giving. I have books that once brought me joy, but that, now, having grown older or learned terrible things about the creators, I hate to look at. I know that others would want them and read them, but I still feel responsible for my custody of them. I want to undo what I did in buying and keeping them.
Book burning, as a single phrase, is more than the burning of books. It’s burning books at someone. But burning something, anything, can be powerfully personal. I have a hard time letting go of books, and I proposed this as a group camping activity because my sense is that, among the geeky people at that campfire, I would not be alone. Sometimes there are books we need to let go, and we have nowhere else to put them.
Throw them on the fire.
Crossposted from Tablesaw! http://ift.tt/1nWvOCz
I’m not even done with this article and I already want to blog about it. Well, mostly I just want to blog. Well, mostly I want to put something on my DW. (And a little bit I want to play Spelunky.)
I’ve been thinking about blogging vs. Twitter for a little bit. I’ve been aware that there are lots of aspects of Twitter that make me quieter on it. Obviously, there’s the length restrictions, which I react to pretty strongly. I find it hard to make statements that comprise more than one tweet. But there’s also the speed of tweet/retweet/response (Tumblr has a similar cycle), which I just have a hard time keeping up with. But there’s an also an issue of time and speed. I also know that it will add to my blog’s accruing history (which I see is going to become important in the part of the article I am still getting to).
As I said, I’m still working my way through Vance’s article, but the portion about form and content as regards Twitter polarized me on that matter, highlighting the exploitative structure of its form. One of those things is the way that Twitter is obsessively focused on the “now”.
Consider all the reasons why our intrepid capitalists of yesteryear replaced the (almost) timeless Holy Bible with a newspaper whose time is always the present; consider the political redefinition of ‘content’ to mean consumable rather than everlasting. A Tweet™ spends no more than a day or two in public view before vanishing into a database somewhere. Once our Tweet™ has been consumed and forgotten we make another and another, never Tweeting™ the same thing twice without dedicating 5 characters to an apologetic “ICYMI” (in case you missed it). The ‘form’ of Twitter, like that of the newspaper, demands a constant stream of new things to bury all the old ones.On Twitter (and Tumblr), I do feel that pressure of having to put forward quantity a quantity of “content” that’s more than I can really sustain in order to have a “presence.” And as a result, existing on those sites makes me feel like a ghost, passive. Writing on a blog—my blog—give me a sense of place, and also lets me slow things down to my own speed.
There’s also the fact that Dreamwidth remains a noncommercial open-source system, which I can depend on to stay relatively true to its mission statement (though there are, of course, ways that the structure still affects how I write). It just feels like a more comfortable place to be right now, even if I don’t think anybody’s going to be around to read it. (He says, knowing that once he posts this, links to it will be posted on Twitter, Tumblr, Livejournal, etc.)
Crossposted from Tablesaw! http://ift.tt/1rll43m
Observation: I like the me in the mirror at least twice as much while tipsy than I do sober. Discuss.
In vino, veritas.