The Digital Age

The Digital Age

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“Do not hang back with the apes!”
- Blanche Dubois to her sister Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire. ”

I have reached the digital age. Principles of Uncertainty and Other Constants - my short story collection- is now on Kindle. It is paperless and wireless. It suddenly appears and suddenly vanishes with the flick of a switch.

Where does it go or come from?
When it leaves again I am afraid I may never see it again and when it comes back again it seems like it was never gone. These are the same letters- an electric illusion of course- that light up Tolstoy and Lipsyte, Doctorow and Doestoyevsky and now me.

It’s also stain proof- spill some spaghetti sauce on it and just wipe it away with a sponge.

<a href=”http://mlevenberg.blogspot.com/2011/09/face-of-my-father-reading.html“>My father wouldn’t have liked it</a>. Where would his legacy of spaghetti sauce be- the very stains I still see in his books- by which I remember my father and his love of reading and how he got me to love reading by bringing me home books with not only words but also pictures and photographs that always came to life.

One of last things I said to my father- when he was dying- when he could no longer read- was how proud he should be that he had read all those books- what an accomplishment it was I told him- as I swept my arm across the span of those book shelves down in Florida- sweeping my arm like I was sweeping across history itself- like I was Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune (see <a href=”http://mlevenberg.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-urban-cat.html“>‘The Cat’</a>in paper or Kindle).

There were those thick tomes of History and Biography and Science (even my book was up there). How could I have ever swept my arm across a single skinny Kindle where all those books he had read were hidden from view- invisible to the naked eye- broken down into digitized molecules- a single skinny e-reader where hundreds of books used to be?

On the other hand my father was fascinated by technology and how much easier it would have been for him to bring a Kindle or an iPad to the coffee shop every morning or the waiting rooms at all those doctors’ offices or the mall while waiting for my mother- how much easier than lugging around all those 800 page hard covered books.

Let me be honest. I’ll always love books more than book machines- the feel of a book- flipping through the pages with your fingertips- without what came before disappearing in the wake of what followed- writing between the lines and along the margins like your mind traveling- following- the flow of a river along its shores.

Yet as I sat the other night reading my book on Kindle I started to feel that my words electrically charged had a new kind of energy- unrelentable indestructible non-exchangeable non-returnable, un-throwoutable- energy an energy of a new generation, a new age- I read my own words now- this brave new world of words- as if they were in timeless limitless space- words without beginning or end- without front or back. So I read and read and read- one page- one percentage point at a time- until the battery ran out.

About the Author

Mitch Levenberg
Mitch Levenberg has published essays and short fiction in such journals as The Common Review, Fiction, The New Delta Review, Fine Madness, The Saint Ann’s Review, Confluence, The Assisi Journal, BigCityLit.com, and others. His collection of stories, Principles of Uncertainty and Other Constants was published in March 2006. He has won two Honorable Mention Awards (2004, 2009) for his essays on his father’s experiences in the Philippines during the Second World War. One of these essays, “Butterflies and Lepers,” was published in the anthology Pain and Memory (2009) edited by Gregory Tague. “The Plain Brown Envelope,” was published in the anthology Common Boundary: Stories of Immigration and “The Marketplace of Lost Dreams” in Battle Runes, also edited by Gregory Tague. Two of his stories The Pen and The Line will be appearing in the forthcoming issue of The Same Press magazine. His memoir on adopting his daughter from China will be published this winter. He teaches writing and literature at St. Francis College and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter and three dogs. mlevenberg.blogspot.com