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Story of survival

Mircea Pricăjan

Publicat Duminică, 4 Martie 2007, ora 10:14

      When Sony invented the VHS tape every theatre house manager feared that people will no longer buy his tickets. Well, time has proved this fear wrong. People still go to watch movies at cinemas and still find it a great pleasure.

      Mutatis mutandis, when the Internet and the video games were invented everyone said that the era of written word was over. More than that, when the first e-book was posted on a site, every book publisher asked him/herself the same question: does this mean that books as we all know them will soon become obsolete?

      The paragraph above states—without my intention, I assure you—two different and, at the same time, tightly linked problems.

      Let us start with the latter.

      Will Guttenberg be replaced by Mr. Internet? I think not. And I have my reasons for saying that.

      I think that it is not a matter of choosing between two means of spreading the word, so to speak. When something new appears it’s not a necessity to throw the old out of the window—old meaning, more than once, another way of seeing things. What will most than often happen is that the old will soon shift the perspective by some degrees, while the new will surely become—quicker and quicker nowadays—old. Things have a tendency of adapting themselves, of surviving. It’s the law of nature. When video recorders became widely spread and easily accessible to a large amount of people, what happened to the cinema business was to release the 3D movies and the Dolby Surround System. What could happen to the traditional books to stay in competition with the e-books would be to mix the printed word with illustrations and, who knows, even sound. A book would become a work of art as an object, too. This happens nowadays—without the sound included (for that we still need to buy CDs, usually those recommended to us by the publishers themselves)—it happens with the limited hard-back editions. The great Dark Tower saga (author: Stephen King), which is now completed, will be first published in such De Lux editions. I believe that in a couple of years such an enterprise will be taken to a larger scale and that paper-backs will become museum pieces.

      Books on paper will never die also because they are friendlier, because they favor a more direct contact with the story and because—maybe the most important aspect—because readers are among the most conservatory of the art consumers.

      Talking about readers, I find myself drawn back to the first issue stated in the beginning paragraphs.

      Did the appetite for literature suffer a loss?

      It surely did. But I think that’s not to worry about!

      Not only history is cyclical, but art appreciation also. Considering the immense innovations in the fields of science and virtual reality, it’s no wonder that literature had to step back a little. The era we live in is an era dominated by moving images, an era of fast moving images. Now, who can say that reading a book is a fast activity? On the contrary: it implies a well paced, quiet and lonely factor. It was natural for it to be let to rest for a while. We have talked about audiobooks as alternatives for lonely reading—I think that is the first sign of literature’s adaptation to the new context. It we are to look even further we can say that movie adaptations of great novels is another sign. “The Hours” was a successful movie and it was based on Michael Cunningham’s novel. “Dreamcatcher” is another example. “Lord of the Rings” and “Garry Potter” are others. What happened was that this kind of cinematic efforts turned the consumers towards literature. It could be interesting to see a statistic about how many copies of “Lord of the Rings”, for instance, were sold after the first installment of the movie was released. I’m sure that the publishers were very happy.

      The reverse happened also. Great movies were soon made into novels—if the result was not very praiseworthy, is because those who were assigned the job to do it didn’t have the talent to reinforce the theme with new ideas. But, still, the intention is laudable.

      The main idea is that there will come a time when readers will enter bookshops again to buy a book just because they want to read it and not because they want to see in advance what happens to Frodo. And that book will be sought after also because it will be illustrated by a well-known painter… and because, who knows, it has a good soundtrack attached to it—like a gift box full of wonders.

      As long as literature will exist, it will find a way to get to the people and keep them into its wonder-world… just because!


      P.S. Another example of the literature’s influence upon life just came to me. Last week I have made the connection between Big Brother-the Show and George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.—I just remembered of seeing another reality show called “Shipwrecked” which immediately called to mind the famous Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”.

      I wonder whether anyone has thought of basing a reality show on H.G. Wells’ work. Maybe on “Planet of the Apes” or “The Time Machine”. That would be interesting indeed!


© Copyright Mircea Pricăjan
Sursa :   Imagikon
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