reading response

Sacrosanct? Or Not?

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I appreciate the claims Watchell makes with regards to whether or not the book as a tangible entity is sacrosanct or not. Specifically, lets think about the illustration he gives when saying, "And that is why the current attempt to hold a mirror up to the mouth of the book-publishing industry to see if it is still breathing strikes me as misguided... we do not need books. We need lofty ideas".

Just Bookends After All?

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I want to start off by saying I enjoyed her sentiment and think it connects very well with the other articles that we've read so far this semester. She echoes the thoughts of Bob Stein. Stein describes that we need to move beyond the book that it's all about the idea of the book, that it doesn't matter what form it's in. We just need to recognize "user driven media." Wachtell talks about this exact same concept- that "long-form" texts are vitally important because of the ideas they convey.

Lofty Ideas

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Wachtell makes a good point. Brilliant, or as she says, "lofty" ideas that "can open the window on to a new way of seeing the world" are hard to come by. She mentioned Silent Spring and Guns, Germs, and Steel. Books of that calibre aren't just the product of a rapid write. They often takes years to produce and the end result is something that not only the writer but a whole team of people has worked to put out.

Ideas worth their weight in gold?!

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Watchell got me thinking about the value of ideas. I recently told my ENGL 103 students that a sentence is basically one discreet unit of thought-- humans rely on spoken language and "written language" (hegemony of print; includes all forms of communicating with symbols including texting with a phone and using hand sign language) to compose these infobits, which are transferable between brains.

Dinosaur Publishers

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Wachtell thinks “long-form” texts or “lofties” are vitally important in our society for several reasons. First, it is our history. Books are keys to the past. Books are integral in the communication of expertise, creative ideas, and innovations. Simply put, history would be extraordinarily different without books. Secondly, long-form books are a part of our past. Losing these books would take away a huge portion of our past communication. In addition, lofties require a great amount of time, effort, money, and work. “Lofty ideas do not come cheap” (3).

Extinction vs. Evolution

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Diane Wachtell’s article makes a very good point but I believe she leaves out something important. She states that it isn’t the book in printed form that is important but just “long form” texts. She rightly points out that these texts “for centuries have been the primary vehicle through which creative, illuminating, controversial, and important ideas have been communicated.” (1-2) That our culture has been rocked by books. That we have progressed, analyzed, and realized ourselves through books. Texts make readers contemplate their society and their world.

Losing the Book

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Wachtell made a clear distinction between books and “long-form” text. Long-form texts are simply what go into the physical book. It is the thought, creativity, and actual words that make up long-form text. Wachtell points out that they are a vital part of our world’s history. As long as history can be traced, long-form texts are a major part of our cultures way of communicating. If they were to disappear, how would thoughts, ideas, and history be translated to future generations. Readers would no longer have complex works to read and build creativity and expand their knowledge.

Lofty Ideas

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Wachtell sees long-form texts, or “lofties,” as important because they are the vehicles for “creative, illuminating, controversial, and important ideas” to be communicated to society (1). These kinds of texts should be important to readers, and readers should be able to differentiate these texts from other kind of texts. For Wachtell, long-form texts don’t necessarily mean long as in many pages; long-form relates to the process of creating the text.

Ideas Important? Who knew...

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Wachtell does a good job of putting the contemporary publishing situation into perspective. She points out that it is not books themselves that are important (artifacts that serve as furniture and decor in the writer's own home) but the ideas put forth within the books that are vital to the development of society's intellectual status. She continues to elaborate on some of the problems encountered by publishers who work to package these lofty ideas into a readable product.

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