Paper Digital drafts

Davecat, a long-term pen pal Squire mate (my first two marriages were shorter than the six-years he and I've been equainted) wrote an article about the ephemeral nature of writing in this après-paper world.  He highlighted one quality that separates the convenient-for-archiving-medium of the last few centuries and the convenient-for-editing-medium which has become de rigueur.  His conclusion (I'm presuming...because his landing was a mite soft, stopping on a ? the way he did) was that one of the negative side-effects of the digital age was the loss of all the unsaved preliminary sketches, initial drafts, and index card outlines.   He questioned if there were some past tangible benefits from the preservation of the unrefined building blocks of the creative process.   

In an imaginary monastery in 1453 a similar treatise was written (by Brother Davidcatatoniacal of he Chanting to hear the Graduals order) about how the newfangled and inexpensive pulp caused fellow-scribes to discard preliminary scrolls, which—if they were still writing on parchment—would have been reused.

Man has communicated with himself in many ways.  To name a few:  Wax tablets (very etch-a-sketch meets twitter); papyrus (fantastic in the desert, but rots in the rain-forest); quipu (where messages were knotted and worn); and now—the new paradigm—digitally communicating with Squire.

Synchronicity may explain the thing—where you stumble across a word for the first time (a while back, for me, it was: abstruse) and then every time you turn a page someone else has found a way to utilize that neat-o abstract/obtuse combination-word you just learned.

Was it also synchronicity when, two days ago, I learned about Rudyard Kipling's preference for writing longhand and about his paranoia that the labors of his writing might profit someone besides himself—so much so, that he insured his "roughs" were burned, daily, under supervision?  Because I think it's an answer to Davecat's question:  that the largest thing lost by the digital-snake eating his own tail (second and third drafts consuming the initial) is the profits to be made from selling the "discovered in an old trunk" sketches and rough drafts of famous artists, authors, and musicians. 

As I was writing this Echo, I came up with a question which is related-in-a-abstruse-sort-of-way:  How long will the world's governments continue to subsidize socialized communication?  The postal service is being used less and less.  Squire is being used more and more.  Eventually (in as soon as ten years?) won't corporate shipping companies completely replace government postal services and if not, why not?   When was the last time you wrote a letter with pen and paper?  Will your children's children think of postage stamps the way we think of sealing wax?

Leonardo's Mona Lisa is just a thousand thousand smears of paint. Michelangelo's David is just a million hits with a hammer.  We're all of us a million bits put together the right way. — Chuck Palahniuk (Diary)

2 comments:

SafeTinspector said...

If a work is purely digital, and some entity deigns to seek out and modify all copies through automation then, barring isolated copies which could possibly be discredited by that entity, the work is changed not only from that point forward... but also from that point BACK.

veach st. glines said...

If a work is purely filmed in black and white, and some entity deigns to seek out and colorize all copies through automation then, barring isolated copies which could possibly be discredited by Ted Turner's automatons, the work is changed not only from that point forward... but also from that point BACK.