Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Amazing Block of Books

A few weeks ago I was sitting at the desk of a coworker waiting for him to fix a piece of equipment so I could install it. As I was waiting, I picked up his newspaper dated April 12 and started skimming the articles. I read the usual articles, the Police Beat, the opinion pieces and an article on Facebook and Zuckerberg, and as I was folding the paper up and trying to be appear patient, an ad caught my eye. I stared at this ad in wonder for a minute before I turned to another coworker, nudged him and said, "Look at this!" He glanced at it, glanced at me, and said, "Cool." Cool? No! Not just cool! This was amazing! It was an advertisement for the Museum of Art and the newest exhibit on the "The Matter of Words". The picture featured was a huge block of books! It was huge! I wanted to clock out and go see it right then, but that would undermine my mother's good efforts at teaching me patience and responsibility. When he finally finished repairing the broken equipment, I asked my coworker if I could take his newspaper. He looked at me with a weird look (he usually does anyways because he thinks my choice of hair color is ridiculous), but nodded and said to recycle it when I was done. I did not recycle it; in fact, I still have this newspaper. It was packed up with me when I moved apartments, and the other day, I got to see the book block, and it was truly amazing.

Last Thursday, my coworker, Justin, and I were out early working on a project, and our first stop: the MOA! I was so excited! I hadn't had a chance to go see this amazing book block yet, but here was my chance. I contained my urge for instant gratification, and helped Justin with the project first. As we were being escorted by a security guard to where we needed to go, I asked her if the block was still here and if so, could we maybe just stop by it. I am sure Justin thought I was a dork, but I didn't care. She was very nice, and said we could definitely stop by it, and she even gave me a few facts about it. I was so excited. When we finally stopped by it, and was breathless. I like art; I wouldn't say I am a die hard art fan, but I appreciate its beauty, but this piece shocked me. As I walked around it, I became more and more mesmerized with it. Unfortunatley, I had to go back to work sooner than I would have liked, but I did do some more research on this block of books.

Adam Bateman, along with two others, completed 46 works of art focusing on books and the written word. Bateman built his masterpiece, "The Fourth Thousand Years," right inside themuseum. However, before construction on this piece of art, the Museum's floors had to bereinforced in anticipation of how much this would weigh. How much does it weigh? 83,000 pounds! That's right, 41 tons of books-that's as much as 30 to 40 cars! 70-80% of these books are LDS books, too. As I walked around it I could see Bibles, Books of Mormon and and other LDS teaching manuals scattered around the walls of this block. There are some 100,000 booksholding this 14 foot sculpture, and there isn't one speck of adhesive in the whole block. It is held together only by gravity. Bateman said concerning the structure of his art,"[It] is only possible through following strict parameters of stacking and using plenty of experimentation and faith."

Why did this amaze me so much? Was it the vastness of the sculpture? The titles all hidden from the eyes? The wavelike flow of the books? The amount of books? Because surely this shouldn't be so incredible since Kindles were marketed, right? Inside a small square that is only 1/3 inch thick and weighs 8.5 ounces there is capacity to hold 3,500 books. This little, black Kindle can buy books, share books, highlight and save favorite passages and can be taken anywhere you want to go. Why doesn't this inspire with the same awe-filled emotion as the Bateman's art exhibit did? In my hand I can hold 3,500 books, which is amazing, but it doesn't inspire me, or make my love of the English language grow.

There are so many forms that books come in now. eBooks, iPads, Kindles, PDFs, Audio books and even remixes such as movies are being consumed by readers all over the world. But, in my opinion, books will never become obsolete. Why? Because of the connection physical books create. Dr Burton asked our class why some people prefer books over Kindles, and my classmate, Ben, answered for me saying that he lost the connection with the book when he read it in a technology format. This is so true. We loose the relationship we form with a book when we do not read it in its intended format of paper and ink. We create theses relationships when we recall memories and the books we had in our hands at the time, or when an epiphany hit us when we were reading it or carrying it or just looking at it! Books become our friends with memories and relationships when they are in their physical formats; something that cannot happen when you archive the book in your Kindle.

A Kindle doesn't create this wonderment, I wonder why?

1 comment:

  1. You totally nailed this on the head. While I enjoyed certain benefits that kindle gives you, the loss of that personal, physical connection with a book efentually turned me away from e-books. For example I'm doing the great Gatsby and I got my old high school copy out to read and was amazed at how personal it felt and all the memories it brought back. A kindle can't do that.