The Sleepiness of the Text

I found this passage from The Pleasure of the Text gratifying:

And yet, it is the very rhythm of what is read and what is not read that creates the pleasure of the great narratives: has anyone ever read Proust, Balzac, War and Peace, word for word? (Proust’s good fortune: from one reading to the next, we never skip the same passages.)

This passage, from David Owen’s NYer profile of the inventor Saul Griffith, was less cheering:

The Internet’s energy and carbon footprints now probably exceed those of air travel… perhaps by as much as a factor of two, and they are growing faster than those of almost all other human activities.

Griffith helped implement the electronic ink technology that the Kindle uses, inspired by the reams of paper he saw glutting Australia’s landfills. Now he’s working on wind power, sponsored by Google, to offset the Internet’s damage to the planet.

The iPad uses way more power than the Kindle. I guess that makes the Kindle, or other e-readers that use e-ink, the greenest (and least-pleasurable?) way to read. I guess people have been thinking about this already. I’m sleepy.

(Did anyone else find the photocollage illustration of Griffith—crazy hair, large/athletic/eccentric genius—along with a few superficial details of his life — child sports prodigy, professor-parents, MacArthur grant…—to be reminiscent of David Foster Wallace? I haven’t finished the piece yet (I hate reading reading diaries that obsess over or even mention how much of a work the writer has or hasn’t read, how sleepy the writer was while reading what he’s writing about, or how sleepy he is while writing, or where he was when he read the thing he’s writing about, or at what hour,what he was eating. In other words…) (Griffith lives in the Mission.)

And he also shares with Wallace the ability to extend his considerable what I think of as “formal” intelligence beyond its normal boundaries—to places of deeper feeling and compassion. In Wallace’s case, this meant applying (or maybe combining) a linguistic and philosophical and deductive/(mathematical?/rigor and) intelligence toward (or with) a sensitivity to suffering, sadness, pain, (art); Owen’s thesis in his profile (not that I’ve finished it) is that Griffith is the rare inventor who considers the social, political, cultural, and environmental obstacles to a problem’s solution, rather than focusing exclusively on technology.

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