Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Mi scivolas se mia geedziĝa estas finata.

Mi geedziĝis kun mia edzino antaŭ preskaŭ dekdu jaroj, konante ŝi antaŭe tri jaroj. Kiam ni geedziĝis, mi kredis ke nia amo sufus por tutaj niaj vivoj. Sed, ni estas tie ĉi nun, kaj mi ne povas diri ke mi konas se ŝi plu amas min ... aŭ se mi plu amas ŝin.

Kiel ni venis al tian lokon? Kiel povas du geviroj, kiuj diris ke ili amos ĉiam, rivi kie ili ĉiam, aŭ preskaŭ ĉiam, koleras? Mi ne povas feliĉigi ŝin plu. Kiam ŝi leviĝas matene, ŝi parolas kolere al mi; kiam ŝi revenas al hejmo poste sia laboro, ŝi parolas kolere al mi. Estas kiel ŝi ĉiam koleras, al mi, al aliulo, al ĉiuj kaj al ĉiojn. Kaj kiam ŝi koleras, ŝi uzas vortojn malbonegajn. Hieraŭ mi devis fermi la porton de la ĉam ke ŝi estis, ĉar ŝi estis kolerdiranta "Fiku tion! Fiku! Fiku!" denove kaj denove, unu foje poste alia. Ŝi ofte faras tion, kaj mi ja dormemas de tio.

Mi ja dormemas, kaj mi ne povas kontinui tiel. Hodiaŭ vespere, mi demandis de mi se mi povas kontinui geedziĝe tiel, kaj mi komprenis ke mi ne povas. Ni jam geedziĝas dekdu jarej. Kiel oni kontinui tiel por kvardek jaroj ke ankoraŭ venas? Kiel oni kontinui tiel por tridek jaroj ke ankoraŭ venas? Dudek? Mi ne povas, kaj mi ne certas ke estas iu kiu povas, sen feliĉeco sufa por diri "Mi amas mian edzinon."

Mi ne certas plu se ŝi plu amas min. Estas kiel nia geedziĝo mortis.

Ankaŭ, ni havas tri gefiloj; la plijunaj aĝas malpli unu jaro.

Mi ne volas por ili grandiĝas kun deedziĝo de ilia gepatroj ... sed mi ankaŭ ne volas por ili grandiĝas kun la kolero de sia patrino ĉiam kie ŝi estas.

Sinjoro Eternulo, aŭskultas mian preĝon, kaj trovigu por mi la respondon de tia problemo, ĉar mi ne scias via vojo.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Ebooks and the storied history of reading

I don't like ebooks.

I'm sure the convenience of carrying an entire library in your bag is a wonderful thing, and like others before me, I'm all for reducing waste and conserving resources. And of course I adore the idea of being able to keep books "in print" in perpetuity. I've never been able to find a copy of "The Elder Edda" in translation when I've looked, but there's no reason to believe that would be a problem with an ebook reader in my hands. There's so much to appreciate about ebooks, really.

I can't do it, though.

The reasons for this disinterest are all around me. They're the 1930 edition of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" and "The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" that used to belong to my grandfather, the copy of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's "Good Omens" that I have read a half-dozen times in the past ten years, and the hundreds of other books that line almost every room of my house.

Books are more than just stories; they are memories. There is the trip I took to Alaska in 1988 while I was reading "Paradise Lost," the conversation I had with Steve Hersey about "The Divine Comedy" in Port-au-Prince, the time I woke my roommate by talking in my sleep about "The Brothers Karamazov," and the tears I shed over the final chapter of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Sometimes these memories are marked in the book with little notes, bent pages or other tells, and sometimes not; but the associations are always strongest with the copy I was reading at the time. The story may be the same in another edition or copy, but the pages I have are old friends, and they know me just as I know them.

In the end, books are more than just the words that they contain. They are sensations. A book is the rustle of paper as you turn the page, it is the rough yellowed fibers under your fingers. It is the ache in your hand that you're vaguely conscious of after holding the book open one-handed for an hour while you were doing something else.

And just as books are connections to their previous owners, so they also are bridges to our children. Already I've been able to hand my daughter treasured books from my childhood and watch as the exact same words on the exact same pages carry her away in wonder, horror, and awe. It doesn't matter if it's "Something Under the Bed is Drooling" or Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." It's my book, and it's having its effect all over again.

Ebooks do none of this.

They read well enough, it's true, without the too-bright gleam of a computer, and as for transporting eager readers to realms of wonder, I am sure they do that as well. But it's also hard to imagine building a sentimental attachment to an ebook. "Here, Evangeline," I can't imagine myself saying. "I've had this computer file since I was your age. I'd like you to have it now."

Gone also are the other thrills of books. The wonder of walking into a bookstore to find something new to read, the thrill of running my eyes along a shelf of books for a familiar friend to read and rediscover, and the delicious smell of old books in a library either personal or public -- those are all gone with an ebook. All that is left of the selection process is a sterile screen and an experience no more transporting than browsing the Internet for something to buy.

Books are friends; books are life. An ebook is neither. It might as well be a jpeg or text file for all the emotional attachment it will get.

Something else ebooks lack: permanency. When I read a book, I can put it down for a day, a week, a year, or even a decade. When I return, I know not only that the book will still be there, but also that its contents won't have changed. The same foolish typos, the same controversial language, the same bold ideas will still be exactly as I left them.

We've already seen with ebooks that this is not true. It was only in July 2009 that Amazon erased copies of "1984" and "Animal Farm" from the Kindles of customers who had bought them. Books that can be erased or that can be changed, are not books.

The marketing mavens believe that ebooks and ebook readers are the way of the future. I fear they are right; I hope they are not. For as long as I can, I am going to continue to read books the way I always have, and hope that my children will as well.

Copyright © 2018 by David Learn. Used with permission.