The Death of the Book


Dirty Book #1 © Tom Benedek 2011

Pity the book.  It’s dead again.  Last I checked, Googling “death of the book” produced 11.8 million matches.  The day before it was 11.6 milion.  It’s getting unseemly.  Books were once such handsome things.  Suddenly they seem clunky,  heavy, almost fleshy in their gross materiality.  Their pages grow brittle.  Their ink fades.  Their spines collapse.  They are so pitiful, they might as well be human.

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I came to understand why animals have horns. It was the incomprehensibility that could not be contained within their lives, a wild and obsessive caprice, their ill-judged and blind obstinacy. Some idée fixe—grown beyond the borders of their being and high above their heads, suddenly brought into the light—had solidified into palpable, hard matter. There, it had assumed its wild, incalculable, and incredible shape, twisted into a fantastical arabesque, invisible to their eyes, but dreadful nonetheless, the unknown numeral under whose menace they lived. I understood why those animals were disposed to ill-judged and wild panic, to startled frenzy. Herded into their mania, they could not extricate themselves from the knot of those horns, and so, lowering their heads, they looked out sadly and wildly from between them as if trying to find a pathway through their branches.
—  Bruno Schulz, The Brilliant Epoch
It is not quite as dark here as we thought. On the contrary, the interior is pulsating with light. It is, of course, the internal light of roots, a wandering phosphorescence, tiny veins of a light marbling the darkness, an evanescent shimmer of nightmarish substances. Likewise, when we sleep, severed from the world, straying into deep introversion, on a return journey into ourselves, we can see clearly through our closed eyelids, because thoughts are kindled in us by internal tapers and smolder erratically. This is how total regressions occur, retreats into self, journeys to the roots. This is how we branch out into anamnesis and are shaken by underground subcutaneous shivers. For it is only above ground, in the light of day, that we are a trembling, articulate bundle of tunes; in the depth we disintegrate again into black murmurs, confused purring, a multitude of unfinished stories.
—  Bruno Schulz, “Spring,” from Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, translated by Celina Wieniewska