For a person with a photographer’s perspective, my eyes are the portals with which I engage in creativity & document the world around me. I’ve pined about people with eyes glued to cell phones but then realized my eyes had been overlooking people reading in public.
In all facets of life people are primarily engaged with society in a visual mode. The written word, in print, has significant & unique differences than other media we ingest. The seemingly unlimited amount of data available on our devices is a terrific advantage over the limited information a book can provide. However, the printed page has more depth, texture and personality.
I’m not reading books as much as I thought I would during retirement. I am spending more time at the library (tutoring students). But I do spend more time with electronic reading, writing & naturally Photoshop, which is more screen time than I anticipated. In a world without digital this blog isn’t possible.
When I do sit down with a book it is a welcome change from screens. It feels different in your hands; you can easily go back a few pages to re-read a paragraph, a page turn is completely different than a swipe, text on a screen is transient while a book has a feeling of durability.
Sitting down with a book is more of a commitment of time than pulling out the device from your pocket for a momentary distraction. I will often find a deeper connection to the information, author or characters in the simple task of holding the book in my hands.
The difference in size & heft of a book compared to a device adds to the influence of the ideas the author wrote. The environment you read in can impact how the content unfolds. Waves washing ashore with the warm sun in your face add to the emotional connection you are holding in your hand.
At a recent modeling workshop I took a few props including books for the models to direct their attention. This made it much easier to have them slightly adjust the position of their head to capture the light from the window.
Although the soft focus of the book might normally be ignored, the direction of the eyes, reinforced with the sunglasses, moves the gaze of the viewer to the book but then returns to the face adding a layer of personality to the reader.
Accompanied with a pen, the book can become a record of the reader’s thoughts, ideas & reactions. Sharing a book by giving it to a friend has a more personal involvement that sharing a link…copy paste doesn’t feel the same.
Reading print in public is a stationary activity. We’ve evolved that we can walk with our hand held screens but the written word requires us to be still. The longer content of books & articles in print feels less temporary than much of what is available on the Internet.
With our screens we can easily click our way thru content while the printed word seems to consume our attention.
Relaxing your soul at the beach is enhanced with a book giving your mind a vacation. Marshal McLuhan hypothesized that books are an extension of our eyes. I wonder if he would look at media from screens in the same manner?
Not being a child of the digital age I am a hybrid of both physical & electronic words. I see both the value & perceive drawbacks to reading from my electronic displays. It reinforces my mantra of “I Love Digital, I hate Digital.” In the futuristic dystopia movie Max Headroom, a book is referred to as a “rare non-volatile storage medium.” I do hope that the process of getting absorbed by a book does not become a “period piece” in our history.