The purpose of books

What is the purpose of books? Not the same in every culture. A display of thirteen centuries of illustrated books in Japan shows books dedicated to catching the essence of a moment - a second - or even a nanosecond. One scroll illustrates a single day's journey. An all-night party by Hokusai produced 364 sketches. The books themselves were perceived as ephemera.

"When the evanescent is carefully contemplated, something timeless is revealed," says Edward Rothstein (New York Times). The exhibition is in the New York Public Library until 4 February 2007.

Ehon: The Artist and the book in Japan
Were these beautiful, strange, startling books the equivalent of a newspaper? Is online journalism the ultimate in ephemera, or a museum of fossils?


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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2 Comments

rachel
rachel

May 10, 2007

I think so, especially as the chapters are like modules — most of them really can be read in any order. (I’m assuming the book you mean is ‘Nine Winning Habits of Successful Authors’.) In fact I dare say many books are read this way, the internet way, although authors prefer to think otherwise. Novels, not! Except… one of my sisters always reads the last chapter first…

Richard
Richard

May 09, 2007

In your book, you analyze some 60 works of fiction, not all of which would necessarily be familiar to the common reader. Would the reader of this book immediately turn to the works he or she is most familiar with?

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