further response on Marginalia

Well! Wouldn’t you know. Coincidentally… do you believe in coincidence? Maurice Blanche, mentor to Maisie Dobbs, says that coincidence is the messenger of truth… but coincidentally, my Shelf Awareness email of the day opens with the following quotation from NPR’s Andrei Codrescu:

I’m reading a new book I downloaded on my Kindle and I noticed an underlined passage. It is surely a mistake, I think. This is a new book. I don’t know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books…. And then I discovered that the horror doesn’t stop with the unwelcomed presence of another reader who’s defaced my new book. But it deepens with something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station.

“So now you can add to the ease of downloading an e-book the end of the illusion that it is your book. The end of the privileged relation between yourself and your book. And a certainty that you’ve been had. Not only is the e-book not yours to be with alone, it is shared at Amazon which shares with you what it knows about you reading and the readings of others. And lets you know that you are what you underline, which is only a number in a mass of popular views…. Conformism does come of age in the most private of peaceful activities–reading a book, one of the last solitary pleasures in a world full of prompts to behave. My Kindle, sugar-coated cyanide.

–Andrei Codrescu on NPR’s All Things Considered

How’s about that, hm? Rather a different take on Sam Anderson’s concept that I discussed in yesterday’s post. Just thought you might be interested. I fully sympathize with Codrescu’s feelings about having other readers’ impressions imbedded in what I’m reading: it clouds my experience. Even if I do care what another reader thinks, I want to hear about it after I’ve read the work myself, unsullied, the first time. What do YOU think about writing in books? Sometimes, never, always? Of course only in books that belong to you. Right?!

One Response

  1. […] I’m just glad I noticed before he took it home with him. [I've discussed marginalia here before. In a nutshell, I'm not a big […]

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