Reading Response #2 for Issues in Writing Technology


Adrian John’s first chapter/introduction of The Book of Nature and the Nature of the Book discusses John’s simply uses philosophers such as Galileo and Brahe to support and present his idea of print culture. He uses this space to explain what he believe bring culture to be and how it was created to be what is. John’s hones into the idea that print and texts are a means by which to product knowledge. Such knowledge in this was can be recorded first from the author, printed, and distributed. In this way, it is my conclusion that John is trying to say that print culture is largely the spreading and sharing of knowledge.


In the middle of page three, John’s discusses first the idea of a book’s individual identity. The idea is genuinely intriguing to me as he looks not only at the book as a finished product, but rather, how the book becomes a book (the process, the people, the manufacturing of it all), and also how the book is used after it is a finished product. John’s is personifying the book as if to give it life, an identity all of its own. “ Its identity can be understood accordingly, in terms of its intricate processes.” Johns also goes on to explain that the literal process of print cannot be taken at face value, at printed value but that, “ it meant that print cannot be as straight forward as it seems.” In this way, Johns is stating that the identity of the book, the life of the book, the book itself serves as a hub of complexity not to be taken for physical value, but rather something much more involved.


Continuing on, Johns entertains another major point and his idea that texts are useful as political instruments. This is the area of the chapter when Johns pulls in lots of examples and support of his argument by discussing Brahe and Galileo’s authorial roles, academia, and control over their writings. Such works of these philosophers and scientists lead to be politically influential. John’s discusses many works but specifically he explains how Dialogo proved to have a heavy political influence, “Dialogo, which triggered his downfall at the hands of Pope Urban VIII’s Inquisition, books were key elements in any strategy to take advantage of patronage opportunity.” (25)


Nearing the end, Johns is making his final point, “Does the importance of print not lie precisely in its ability to transcend such local contexts and enable communication across wide distances?…the most consequential issue of all. ” (40). Here Johns is wrapping up his first chapter with the paradox that is print culture itself. Johns describes the paradox through the lenses of communities. He acknowledges that the paradox is the fact that print tells of communities its stories and its context, but also print unites its community. We can see where Johns is digesting the fact that print was created not only to, “transcend such local contexts,” but to also be the local connectivity.


I found this work to be more confusing to me than past readings. Perhaps it was because there were many words that I had to look up and quickly familiarize myself with, however, I do not feel that I missed his points entirely. If anything, I feel as though I have only scratched the surface and have walked away with face-value of this piece (maybe I should just read the rest of the book!) I am most confused by Johns final point that I stated. I wanted more explanation and it seems like he left me hanging on this huge final point (the significance of it being the end of the chapter??) because I really wanted to fully understand. Is he criticizing the way that print has become less local by being sent out at such vast rates? Is he in a way criticizing transcending nature of print in the context of communities?


Finally, I would like us to discuss how the book is seen as having an identity, a life. This point was the most intriguing to me throughout the section. I am wondering though, with the move away (ish) from print media now in today’s society, does the same life of Internet writing look much differently? How would we consider the identities to be different?