Where Are These Words? Text on the Screen and E-Books

Keywords

There is a disconnect

between these words on the screen

and the words that I write

with my fingers,

and the words

that I write

with my mind

and my heart.

There they are,

distant,

unreal,

cyber, just pixels

on a screen

and on and off signals

on a hard drive.

01001100 01101111 01110011 01110100

01101001 01101110

01100100 01101001 01100111 01101001 01110100 01110011

Lost

in digits.

How can simple letters

take up

so much space?

01001100 01101111 01110011 01110100

They are unreal;

they are not real,

though I feel them pumping through my arms

and my hands

and out my dancing fingertips,

feel the tip-tap of fingers on keys like rain

dancing on a tin roof, Riverdance

or Raindance

on a piano,

every step a pitch

on a pitch-black

and white keys. I make them with touch,

textile text,

I feel their shape as I carve them with my motions,

the spring of the key,

the clack–

but they’re frozen

in nothingness. They don’t exist.

What are they now? Where are they?

01001100 01101111 01110011 01110100

Lost.

01001100 01101111 01110011 01110100

Hi again! I’ve missed you, world, and I’m incredibly sorry for not publishing anything since…

…guess it’s June, huh? Sorry. But as time added up and inspiration went down, and I forgot my password… Well, I’m done with that now. Trying to keep a regular post time just didn’t work for me and my schedule. Yes, writers should get used to deadlines; yes, there are other people who have jobs and blogs and keep them both in tip-top shape; I’m capable of giving you a poem every Tuesday, like clockwork; but do I want to? Am I the kind of person who can or would want to do that? Would it be any good? Maybe. But I haven’t had as much fun trying. I’ll keep trying, but I’m done making myself feeling guilty for even typing ‘word’ into the browser (which is part of “wordpress.com”)

Anyway, back to the poem that I wrote.

I strongly dislike writing poetry and other things through the computer. The poem above is an example of how I feel. Give me paper, baby, every time. Paper’s so tactile, so satisfying, so three-dimensional, so easy to read on. Can’t you agree that it’s easier to be able to flip to the part of the book you want, rather than paging through each screen or searching for the section? With our fancy technology, we’ve unbound one of the greatest inventions–the marvelous book–and gone back to the dull old scroll. Reading e-books does not give me so much of a sense of progression as a normal book does. Who else dives into a book, feeling the challenge of a good inch-thick chunk of pages, determined to get far enough into it so that the binding doesn’t crack/tear, and having that same heft at the end, with the beautiful close to the cycle of reading? You can really appreciate how at both the beginning and end of a large book, you struggle with holding it open, and the middle is the part when you’re perfectly happy. Ironically, that’s the aggravating part because you want to finish it and know what happens.

E-books are cool though. You can take a magazine-sized object with you anywhere, yet you have available at your fingertips a whole library of books. They’re mini TARDISes, as Doctor Who fans might have already realized. But when it comes to reading textbooks or cookbooks or anything I’d rather flip through…no. No thanks. Just the novels, please. Those are linear, unlike the two I just mentioned.

Where are these words, though? Unless you’ve decided to print them out, they’re nowhere. They’re binary signals, telling your screen where to light up white and where to light up dark. On and off, the basic language of computers and phones everywhere. 1 and 0. They float in nothingness. (Or else they’re somewhere in Alabama, or Europe, or Asia, or South America, or Africa, or wherever it is that you’ve got that hard copy of this post)

Oh, technology.

You and your nothingness, you.

–Aidyl

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