Newspaper article International New York Times

The Printed Word Is Disappearing but Its Demise May Be Poetic

Newspaper article International New York Times

The Printed Word Is Disappearing but Its Demise May Be Poetic

Article excerpt

Even if it never entirely expires, other mediums of expression are consuming the limited oxygen.

Rivka Galchen

The written word has been dying for so long!!! Exclamation points have finally revealed themselves as the sleeper cells of Image?! Image, which is so much better at getting us to buy something? You've read this argument before. Then we say that kids these days, they never read -- they never read! -- or, kids these days, they heart reading, and their tweets are Wildean epigrams, and Kanye West is a god of language ... although that's not written language, it's ... sometimes we get lost, it's difficult to stay on point in conversation, especially because a terrible death blow was dealt to conversation, by literacy. It's true, literacy has made conversational dum-dums of us all. Look at how witty the dialogue is in Shakespeare ... most everybody back then could follow that sort of thing ... and now we can't, not only because we don't speak Elizabethan English, but because we spend so much time reading ... time that could be spent conversing, bantering ... and that's why the Elizabethans could have nuanced merry wars and everyone could follow and think up quick wordplay responses, because back then, talking was most all there was for most people to do ... so we were better at it. Anyway this was a thought I had, but I'm sure there is evidence, I'm sure people have done studies, and I'm sure reading is a blight that has isolated us from one another, or rather I'm sure that there will always be books, and that books are the right speed for the right thinking for the right life lived by the right people ... or ... that it's all true, and will be more true tomorrow, the whole contradictory clang.

That said, I am pretty sad that the written word is dying. Because it is dying. Even if it never entirely expires, other mediums of expression are consuming the limited oxygen. And I prefer (just personally) the written word to all the other mediums out there, so no amount of compensatory greatness in some other medium mitigates (again, just for me) the melancholy of the written word's decline. …

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