Sandoval on Books, continued

Odd, Mr. Sandoval has urged a new post because he has lots more to say. The post and comments in question can be found via this link. He responds:


Prove to me that a book “lives” and I’ll give you a million-dollar gumdrop. The “state of the author” is exactly the point: The great author on his deathbed whispers to his executor: “Tell them everything I wrote was pure fabrication.” The executor keeps this revelation to himself, keeping the world in ignorance. Humans live, plants live. Even Steve Ersinghaus, who has provided me the space here lives. He just doesn’t know why.


Very poetic. But ultimately misguided. If a human is a book, then you would agree that a book is a human. Jokes aside, if a human is a book, then you ascribe real knowing of your fellows to pure inexactitude. Therefore, we can never know who are friends are.

Disrespect of books. Burn them all and who would care: if given the chance, how many of yours would you die for. The whole notion of the reader “changing” the content of a book is a complex modern myth. What was changed needs something original to compare to, right?


You’re assuming that there was meaning to lose in the first place (there may be, I don’t know). I disagree that the reader is “free” to engage content as you suggest, which also assumes chains a priori, and that the content can be used other than in a discardable English paper. Or do I detect you walking with Rousseau, for whom letting go was a disentangling, but I suspect he disentangled himself into simply another net. Give me covariance any day. And why does the hypertext hedge; books don’t? I submit that we all author to some degree or another. Susan would agree with that, I think. We all want control. But the more we rely on books for that control, the more we waste shelf space.

I think you all have been brainwashed by the culture of the book. What did those Neanderthals do prior to their invention?”

9 thoughts on “Sandoval on Books, continued

  1. susan

    Perhaps misguided, but led so by my betters. Of course I could be a blonde, but a blonde is not me, so don’t try to catch me on that one. And no, we can never know who are friends are for sure. Caesar and Brutus, Liesl and Rolf, my sister and I; one only knows what one is allowed to see, be told, guess at and surmise.

    Would I die for a book? Not one in particular, but perhaps for the cause if all were threatened–and not replaced by another medium. You know how f…ing long it took me to accept reader as writer, but I understand it well now and fight as strongly on this side, having seen the proof in literary discussion of a single piece. And what is it compared to but the author’s original meaning, as the poor sot sought to put it onto paper clearly. Hypertext does allow the paths that paper page can only offer to the mind–a path often lost soon after following. But I get lost in hypertext as well as in my own hometown. Hypertext opens new means to tell a story. Some of us though, are tactile people, prefering to stroke a page instead of keys. Some are more ambitious and some are well afraid.

    I don’t believe a book is a living thing, but believe that Josh means it as a non-static work as the words can be changed within the mind, or they can be carried on in memory same or altered.

    There is, as I believe what George is saying (and again, I may be misinterpreting) as much control over the ultimate number of paths a hypertext may take as that of single story. I shall prove this in a text only version. You may take any of several paths, but the author only leads you to his own presented ending(s).

    The Neanderthals wrote (drew pictures) on cave walls. When they found it difficult to get the story out to the people because they had to bring the people to the cave wall “book”, they switched to stone tablets. Then papyrus. Paper and the printing press. And now, the internet.

  2. Steve Post author

    Sandoval responds:


    Would you argue for an original meaning? To go back to an original condition: I was addressing the issue of the physical condition of the book, not necessarily whatever meaning may be contained therein. It’s really a mathematical argument.

    Let’s say we set the book’s condition as R against duration which we will set as T, which describes the book at rest in a given multiple. On the coffee table, therefore R(T) = 0. The higher the state value, the more tension is being applied to the spine. We could set conditions on the resultant pressure, setting the limit at 10, anything above this would destroy the book.”

  3. susan

    Okay, but your R(T) example isn’t making much sense. You don’t have all parts of the equation. You need Condition (R) x duration (T) x pressure (P) as the pressure wouldn’t change in just the setting down, but remain constant, no?

    But the physicality of the book would still be poor argument for its weakness, since conditions would place variable on the outcome. There are also the options of replacing it with a new one. We don’t know as yet the lifespan of form such as digital; it is subject to as many (if not the same) opportunities of becoming lost or obsolete through changes in the medium or a simple click of a key.

    I’m admittedly not as strong on this argument, but I have books that are a hundred years old and have lost stories (and all kinds of good data) on a crashed hard drive that was only a few years old. A DVD disc can break, be scratched; a server can lose all data into cyberspace. Yet some stone tablets remain.

  4. Steve Post author

    Sandoval responds:

    “I believe we are in agreement then, Susan. As far as the values go, here we’re making an entropy argument. R would be a generalization of fairly simple formulas for torque:

    R ~ T (Torque)= Force vector * d for distance. But we could also generalize Newton’s 2nd law of motion to the application of force onto the book (A) but would need to be more sophisticated (that would be too linear) with inertia tensor dynamics and boy do I love matrices. But let’s not go too crazy with this.

    I think we agree: the book is an object best left closed.”

  5. susan

    AARGH! No, we don’t agree! Shall I go no further than the first screen on hyperfiction? Shall I not explore the paths, whether linked or paper pages? You speak of physical space but then hint at content enough that I cannot sign my name to your theory without that disclaimer.

  6. Steve Post author

    Sandoval responds:

    “If I weren’t already taken by a force of love, I’d ask you to marry me. I detect a hint of flirtation.”

  7. Josh

    So, Mr. Sandoval, how does hypertext make your story more readable than one in the spine?

    Clearly you have a fear of not being read, perhaps even forgotten, by a society who has lost patience with flipping a page.

    But if that’s the case, how does hypertext guarentee you won’t be lost amongst my slew of unread e-mail and unvisited links?

  8. Steve Post author

    Sandoval responds:


    I think the Oracle had it right: ‘Know Yourself.’ The hyspertext won’t make anything more readable. It’s simply a different way of engaging ideas. Here’s an example: there are many realities in the world that are impossible to understand with either words or descriptions: the behavior of electrons, for example, or the Plank Length, or the width of a galaxy, spatial curvature.”

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