[Home] [Weblog] [The Bibliothecary] [Driving the Quill] [Library][Bookmarks]

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven, in which Words are lost in Cyberspace

Well, your Bibliothecary apparently didn't make the cut this month. We submitted some drivel to Estella's Revenge, and though the thoughts were there, the time wasn't spent to turn them into anything of worth. Don't let that stop you from going to read anyway.

In the digital age, words don't end up in a pile on the floor next to the editor's desk. One keystroke, and they are gone. But where do they go? There is much talk about books that never were written, books that should have been written, books that were nearly not written. But what about books, or more basically, words that were written and no longer exist? Is there a place where rejected or banished books go to live, a literary Island of Misfit Toys?

As we noted, there were some interesting thoughts behind the effortless production of our drivel, and so we thought to post some of them here, to at least get a little mileage out of our fingers' work. Unfortunately, there is no copy of an outgoing submission, and there is no draft or final product saved anywhere on the massive mainframe at our International Headquarters. Without questioning our editor's judgement, questions arise. Did we even write it? Who cared less for what we wrote, we who did not save it, or my good editor who rejected it? Is there some sort of digital limbo for words that were once written and then deleted? Can words become ghosts and return to haunt us? Some posit that when a living being dies, its energy is returned to the great energy supply of the universe to eventually be put to use somewhere else. In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie imagines a pool of words from which all stories are drawn and to which they can also return.

We have written things and then lost them, because of some glich, or perhaps human error. Rewrites never produce the same feeling of accomplishment--we always agonise that something is missing, and we just can't retrieve it. For one fleeting moment the thought or idea flourished, and then was extinguished. If such a loss is tragic, why does the idea of a manuscript, or any work of art, being consigned to flames seem romantic? Novels like The Shadow of the Wind and Farenheit 451 deal with similar questions.

Today we sit down and blog our thoughts and they are quickly disseminated, probably cached by Google forever, and, comments or not, undoubtedly read by at least one other soul. Try to imagine an ancient time when computers and the internet did not exist, and the countless words people commited to paper, in letters and journals, which were hidden in a drawer and then consigned to a landfill when those people died, forever unread.

No comments:

Post a Comment