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The Digital Age Will Produce “a Montaigne and a Shakespeare”

27 February 2013

From Publishing Perspectives:

“Goethe said he who cannot draw on 3,000 years of history is living hand-to-mouth,” says Lewis Lapham, the 78-year-old éminence grise of the publishing world.

. . . .

“The historical record is our inheritance — it is on ships’ logs and bronze coins — and lots gets lost. But mankind tends to preserve what’s beautiful, useful and true.”

At the same time, notes Lapham, “America is about perpetual self-reinvention. The historian Daniel Boorstin calls it ‘America’s transpiration’: You need to be prepared at all times to become someone else.”

Nowhere is this more evident than on the Internet, where identity is fluid and communication is increasingly ephemeral. “We live in a ‘once upon a time’ world where the present comes and goes so quickly, and the future doesn’t exist.”

In the digital age, Lapham says, what gets lost is context — and, often, it’s history that provides the context. “Without context you have no cause and effect. The Renaissance, for example, comes out of the rediscovery of classical antiquity. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Books in General