The Last Word

The book is dead. Word on the street is the pillars have fallen. The humble bookseller -beloved of previous generations – is no more, crushed by the advancing wheels of technology.

What’s next – a world of gunmetal grey and libraries stocked full of kindling? How utterly depressing. And what of the lowly browser, who spends all day trawling websites for misinformation, his eyesight drastically weakened – yet more electronic gadgetry?

Imagine a wake for the death of the book. The funeral pyre alone would burn for centuries. And amidst all the wailing and gnashing of teeth would come a strident voice calling for a moments silence. United in grief, the World would bow its head and mourn its loss. The final chapter, finally written. 

But wait. What if the word on the street was wrong? The book was alive and well and living in Surbiton? Then we diehard traditionalists could race into the streets waving copies of Hell’s Angels On Wheels and Madame Bovary, shouting ‘Justice at last!’ 

Of course the book isn’t dead. I’ve got stacks round at my place, pleading to be read. Without them I’d be lost, trawling through copies of the local gazette, or staring at the artex ceiling. Books opened up my mind as a child, introduced me to dazzling new continents from the comfort of my bed. How can I turn my back on them now, and swear allegiance to a machine?

Tonight I’m reading Sartre’s Nausea. The paperback version. Wonder what he’d have made of the cultural heresy sweeping the high street. He’d probably have joined the picket lines outside Waterstones, fighting to stop the bulldozers moving in. Failing that, he’d have written an existential piece on software, called The Beast With Six Backs and submitted it to Penguin to save them from ruin.

Yes, yes, I know it’s absurd. That’s it. This blog is now officially over. Thank you for listening.

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