Thursday, April 03, 2008

Moving Revelations

How technology has changed what I value:
I am throwing out a carrying case of at least 70 cassette tapes that I used to keep in the car. They've spent the last couple of years in a closet corner, being very, very quiet. They knew this day would come.

I can't even give them away. Who wants them? Used cassettes of Beethoven, Holst, Vivaldi, David Bowie, ELO? Trash.

Video tapes? I've given away a ton; the rest will go to Goodwill. I don't even own a device that will play them, although there are some family tapes I'll keep and pay to have put on dvds.

All the classic books I was proud to own: Hemingway, the Dune set (bought in the days when it was still a trilogy), studies of Plato and Greek mythology and Medieval thought, all completely out-of-date to the point of quaintness. All available either online or in a library. Why have I lugged them around for 20 years?

I know why. Because until recently, they weren't available--or at least, I didn't realized they were available--online or at a library. Now I get it.

Among the tomes being "donated" (a euphemism for dumped) is one about the pleasures and worthiness of book collecting. In the 21st century, that's funny. What is the point of book collecting? Is it to hoard? To impress others with one's collection? Is it economic, as in--the books are an investment? Living in a large city with so many libraries near, I honestly don't see the point.

Ergo, many of my books . . . rather, the books formerly known as mine, are being donated.

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