A Luddite in Kindleland

12/29/2011 at 5:28 am (Mary Magdalene, Writing) (, , , , , , )

I’m one of a dying breed: going the way of the Dodo, the tailfin, and the cocktail napkin. When people like me are gone (and we’re really going; I’ve finally reached the age where I can wrap my few remaining brain cells around that one), much of our world will go with us.

I love books. I love handling them, riffling their pages, admiring the design, the dust jacket, the binding, their smell, their feel, how they look with their sisters all-in-a-row on shelf after shelf.

I love arranging my own books. Six of them now. In English, Chinese, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, Czech, French…bedad, I’ve lost count of the translations. I grieve that my books are all in storage, packed away in boxes, waiting in the dark for the day I once again own a shelf. Which implies owning a house. Or near enough. Which surely means having a home. Having a home is my New Years wish.

Enough of that.

I was given a Kindle for Christmas. A funny flat grey thing. With buttons.

With help (of course) I got it registered or assigned or acknowledged…surely it’s one of those. With help, I learned the rudiments. I can now download a book. Which has become two books, then five, then—have you any idea how many books are fa-fa-fa-free from amazon? Not the new ones, oh no, but the good ones: the classics, the forgotten gems, the newly discovered oddities, so many works of ancient philosophy. It’s an Alexandria of free books.

I press the button called Home and up comes a growing list of books I don’t have packed away. I found Talbot Mundy! Only known to me by one book long long ago found somewhere, old even then, I went crazy nuts for it. Om: The Secret of Abhor Valley. Which now resides in one of those cold dark boxes in cold dark storage.

Mundy was all the rage a hundred years or so ago. He sold then as much as yet another vampire book would today. The King of the Khyber Rifles. Black Light. The Winds of the World. Compared to these, vampires are dull stuff. Talbot Mundy was a veritable genius and to follow his ripping yarns highly spiced with dazzling mysticism made his readers only a little less so. It took imagination to write those books and it took imagination to read them.

Last night I found The Yellow Wallpaper. My own book, Houdini Heart, has been compared to it…favorably. So to see its name on offer made my ears ring. It’s very short but wonderfully disturbing. Written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, it’s a strong, terrifying, symbolic tale of how women were once treated by “caring” men: their “devoted” husbands, fathers, brothers. That is, if they were rich. (For the poor female or a member of the lower classes, go directly to Charles Dickens.) Devouring Charlotte’s tale in one gulp, I found it amazingly similar to Houdini Heart in many ways. But the huge difference lies in the female narrator’s essential character. In The Yellow Wallpaper the woman is virtually helpless, in bondage to men and to how she is perceived by them. (Freud really helped out there. Be interesting to know how many women he drove to despair, insanity, even suicide.) In Houdini Heart, the woman is a creative master of her descent (or ascent) into, ah…your guess is as good as mine.

To read Gilman is to MUCH better understand the incredible strength it took to be an Emily Dickinson, a Jane Austin, a George Sand…and so many more. How should I have fared then? Would I have done as my Mary Magdalene did, dressed as a man so I might learn and survive?

Or would I have shot myself?

Must get back to searching for free books. Oh, how a Luddite loves her Kindle. Never thought it could happen to me. But then I resisted computers too. And classes in Creative Writing. That last one was a good idea.

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6 Comments

  1. michael said,

    Wonderful messy lost world, I must say

  2. Henry or Sextant said,

    Ki
    Love your blog and your books. I think you will love your Kindle, its like carrying around your own personal Library of Alexandria. Also get Kindle for PC or Mac…which are free downloads You can keep notes easily in the PC versions and synch them into your Kindle. I put a lot of notes in on Mary, which was a fascinating book, and parallels many of my own beliefs.

    Anyhow I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog and am glad that you started posting again. Have a very Happy New Year and I hope you find your home and get your old friends out of boxes.

  3. kilongfellow said,

    Henry! (First, of course, I thank you and Mariamne thanks you. And last night I dreamt of my own Manderley – a home.) But I must understand what you mean. Get a Kindle for PC…free downloads of what? How to have something one can make notes on? Can one put the file of a book one has written (but not yet published) on the Kindle?

    • Henry or Sextant said,

      Ki,

      I am sorry I was not very clear. Amazon has free Kindle apps for Mac and Windows based PC, iPads, Blackberries…you name it. The Kindle application for a Windows based PC or Mac functions pretty much like the Kindle. You can do the same things with published books on the Kindle apps as you can on the Kindle. If you are reading a published book and you want to write a note (the Kindle equivalent of a note in the margin) you can do that on the Kindle itself which is a PIA with the tiny key pad or touch pad. For books that I want to significantly annotate, I will load the book into Kindle for Mac on my iMac and do the annotations on the Kindle app, using my full sized keyboard rather than the tacky buttons on my Kindle. It is sort of handled like a reader foot notes. You can then synch the Kindle to the PC or Mac Kindle apps and transfer your notes and underlining into the Kindle. The applications are free downloads (you still have to buy the books) but it really makes it handy for when you want to write many or long notes. There are ways to download personal documents to your Kindle, but Amazon has to translate the document and you have to pay Amazon a fee for it. I don’t believe that you can edit documents in the Kindle, just read them. I don’t know anything about that process. You can find out more at the Kindle help on Amazon. The functions I was talking about are for reader’s notes on already published Kindle books.

  4. kilongfellow said,

    Holy Moly. Thank you. Not that I will ever accomplish this. But to take so much time to explain is much appreciated. I don’t write in books or underline things but I know a chap who does – boy, does he. Now all he needs is a Kindle. Happy New Yarn.

  5. Henry or Sextant said,

    Ki

    I never underlined or wrote in books either, for several reasons. 1) I am very sloppy and the notes would be pretty much illegible and the underlining looks like hell. It seemed more like defacing the book rather than adding to it. 2) I always lent my books out and I didn’t want other people reading my notes. Using the Kindle and the Kindle Apps, underlining is neat and the notes are invisible with the exception of a small foot note number, unless you ask to see them.

    You may find it a handy research tool, but of course the books that you would be researching would have to be in Kindle format. There is probably a dearth of ancient gnostic manuscripts in Kindle format!

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