My understanding of Pressman’s article is that she is aiming to argue for what she calls the aesthetic bookishness in twenty-first-century literature. Pressman argues that this bookishness is a literary strategy to a cultural moment.
Three main points:
- For my first point I want to talk about Pressman’s use of the Ludovician shark. Pressman states, “These depths (novel as possessing depth) are hidden reserves that shelter the shark and remind us that there remain as-yet-unexplored spaces in the book-bound, print novel and the aesthetic of bookishness” (page 471). Pressman is using the text that outlines a shark in The Raw Shark Text to focus on her point about the book-bound physicality and our cultural moment. She is saying that there is a kind of unknown to physical books that is not yet discovered and we can see this through the outline of the shark in words on the page of a non-digital book. There is a kind of realness to physical books over digital literacy.
- I want to focus on Pressman’s argument as a whole for my second point. Pressman states, “The book will not become obsolete with new reading platforms, but rather, will change and develop new incarnations and readerships; it will continue to serve certain kinds of literacy needs and literary desires—specifically, those related to its book-bound physicality and potentiality” (page 467). My take on this quote is that Pressman believes books will never “die” in a sense, but will be reborn and carry on giving information for generations to come. However, she says “book-bound physicality” meaning the physical book and possibly not digital literacy.
- My final point is on Pressman’s last page, “They (works that adopt an aesthetic of bookishness) harness the power and potential, as well as the fears and frustrations, of new media into print and onto paper” (page 480). It is to my understanding that Pressman is trying to indicate that physical books provide a higher sense of bookishness for readers simply for the fact that they are physical books. Or perhaps Pressman is stating again that books with bookishness never die but live on in an incarnated form, which would be digital literacy.
Two aspects that were confusing:
- In all honesty, I had absolutely no idea what Pressman meant when she stated, “The Ludovician shark is a perfect predator for the Information Age. It is a conceptual and literary manifestation of the ways in which data mutate across spaces, platforms, and interfaces” (page 471). I’m assuming that Pressman is trying to use the shark as a metaphor, but I’m really lost as to what she is getting at by referring to the shark at all in her article. I may have just read it wrong, or interpreted it differently than what she means.
- Another confusing aspect was when Pressman states, “It is these book-bound spaces that characters, and readers through them, learn to rethink the ways in which we relate to books as objects and media forms” (page 480). I’m not entirely sure what Pressman is trying to get across to her readers here. I feel like she’s making a point on physical books being more empowering than digital books. But overall I’m confused by what she means.
Question to the author:
My question to the author is as follows: you seem to be arguing against books going digital by saying it’s a form of “death,” but you also argue that Ward (Microsoft Word) looked for a way not to die and thus lived on in a digital form to provide future generations with information. Do you argue for or against digital literacy or do you argue both?