31 July 2012

Breaking it down for you

from Steidl, makers of the new "Paper Passion" perfume
If you have been fearing the rise of the digital age--of e-readers replacing your hardbacks, of laptops and tablets replacing your typewriter--more than the preservation of tradition and objects, it is probably the experience of the thing that you cling to most. But as much as I love my things--my books, my typewriter, my card catalog, my bookshelves, my printing press--I am a HUGE admirer of technological innovation. And from what I read, I am reassured that our sensory indulgences have not become lost in the deluge of robotic progress. 

Missing that distinctive smell of a book while flicking through virtual pages on your snazzy new e-reader? Apply some Paper Passion perfume to your wrists! (or maybe the air around you, instead) No, I'm not joking. What fun ideas people have! I am always pleasantly surprised with what other people come up with: the simpler, the better. This product, packaged in a hollowed-out book, even has it's own ISBN number.
from Steidl, "Paper Passion" perfume
I have to say I am very curious about how this actually smells. If I had the disposable income to indulge myself, I would buy a bottle (or, is that buy a copy?) of this perfume just to test it. Talk about the ultimate in luxury book-nerd accessories.


And then, also featured in this article: the sound of typewriter keys while you type on your laptop. Of course, there would be an app for that, wouldn't there? You can call it nostalgia, if you must. But I think that there's just something to be said for the full sensory experience that these smells and sounds are a part of, that we just don't feel quite whole without all of these seemingly trivial details. Maybe we have technological advances to thank for helping bring these things to our notice, helping us to identify specifically all the reasons why we love the old ways of doing things. 

As a writer, I find this all falls into the essential requirement of storytelling: show, don't tell. It's not a matter of finding the most efficient means to an end. There are five senses that need feeding; and when they are, that is when we are fully engaged in the experience. Which certainly is the point.

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