On the inevitability of progress

Monday, August 2, 2010

In an essay at n+1 from the forthcoming The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, Marco Roth writes about technological progress and the future of the book. He sees it as both inevitable and an active choice:

When you think about the crisis of the book you are really confronted with a crisis of your will. You can choose the culture you want, although you may not get it exactly as you dreamed. If you commit yourself, again and again—and it is an ongoing commitment, less easy than it used to be—to the culture of thought, inquiry, and rhetorical expression that arose in conjunction with the written word, inevitably you will carry books with you in whatever form, and inevitably you’ll want to “access them” and compose them in their traditional bound and printed form, if only to feel a shimmer of connection to earlier human generations.