Dual-Use Technology

Like most booklovers, I often forget that the book, whose pages I hover over like god the waters of creation, is an object, a regular crude thing, like an apple or a carburetor or a rabbit’s foot. And like all physical objects, they can be used for purposes other than those for which they’re uniquely suited or well adapted. Really, you don’t have to eat that apple. You can play catch with it. You can use it for target practice, or as a paperweight, or even a temporary book mark. Now if an apple can do all these wonderful things, just imagine what a book, the world’s most iridescently exquisite object, can do? My books have doubled as trivets, plates, and platters, as pillows, footrests and lumbar support, as Yoga blocks and training weights for backpacking, as a toy and distraction for my son (which I spin on my finger as a ball on the nose of a circus seal—you should hear him squeal!), and as a brilliant decoy and stratagem. That’s right, a decoy. Because let me tell you—and, fellas, listen up and take notes—the sight of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness or some other weighty tome of mysterian gobbledygook, casually placed on a table at a coffee shop or on a bar at a pub, is absolutely irresistible to .5% of the female population. And when they see it sitting there, and see you, too, rapt in profound metaphysical abstraction, looking all deep and earnest and cutely pathetic, they (.5%!) will flock to you as to a brightly-colored decoy bobbing on the surface of the water. So. To what dual uses have you put your books?

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8 Responses to Dual-Use Technology

  1. Touche! I will never look at a man reading an interesting book in the same light again!

    • Kevin Neilson says:

      Nor should you! Recall Nietzsche’s maxim, “The degree and kind of a person’s sexuality reaches up into the topmost summit of his spirit.” Stratagems abound. Even in the selection and non-chalant placement of a book. Especially then! Hope all is well. Cheers.

      • LOL Kevin … have been out of town for a week and essentially out of internet access for anything other than essential purposes so have only caught up with this. All is well here — but I start to wonder about the single male member of our Jane Austen group! Should I??!!

  2. *Laughing*
    I am proud to be among that %.5!

    Yes, the dual nature of books. Many of your examples are things I’ve done. We have also used books to build many structures for our children’s amusement: towers and castles, homes for dolls and dinosaurs, garages for cars. There’s the old practice of “balancing a the book on your head for posture and decorum.”

    Because we have books everywhere, the kids often incorporate them into their play: books hold down blankets for forts and also make walls and windows; books have been trandformed into hats and helmets; some books have been incorporated into puppet theater and musical instruments. Usually they are not worse for wear.

    In an emergency, a book can be a spoon-rest for Cheerios or a baby spoon (cleaner than some cafe counters) and can create a boundary to keep the peace between feuding siblings, in cars, planes, and on kitchen tables.

    Ah, the versatile joy of books!

  3. Kevin Neilson says:

    I can’t wait to build a fort with my son. I have half a mind to do it now. But being too young, he’ll just scream for a random this or that. Thanks for dropping in, Valya.

  4. Ali says:

    Kevin,
    Rumi too, in his Masnavi, says that books can be used as pillows. And at the age of technology and computers when young boys and girls first meet on the net, I have seen some that hold a particular book in their hands to be recognized on their first date. I mean in Iran where boys and girls meet with a bit of difficulty.

    • Kevin Neilson says:

      A first date symbol or sign: I-am-he; are-you-she? Wonderful. I love it. Ali, very nice of you to drop in. Talk soon. Cheers, Kevin

      • My children – one of each gender – have at times despaired of meeting a like mind because they fear they’re inside reading books rather than out and about. How do book lovers meet?

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