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[personal profile] krpalmer
Indulging myself, I took a day off this week to show up at the very opening of the annual used book sale at the city library, and left it with a bag of books. Among my purchases were two more issues of a hard-covered magazine from the 1960s and 1970s, "Horizon." It could best be described as covering "history, arts, and culture," although I wonder if my feeling of it being "middlebrow" adds any accuracy. Ever since seeing back issues of it in high school and then managing to buy a good chunk of it at a book sale in unversity, I've been adding to my collection bit by bit, and I do find it interesting even as I get the sense it manages to capture the anxieties of the 1970s emerging from the relatively less anxious mid-1960s.

This time around, though, I managed to get an issue with a cover date exactly fifty years in the past, and aware of the mystic significance of round numbers I dipped into it with some interest. One article, "Where Will the Books Go?", caught my attention when its physicist author started off talking about the reducing effect of microfilm. With an amused sort of feeling, I thought of Richard P. Feynman's then-recent talk "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," and in the next paragraph or so the author had mentioned it as well.

The author was bringing all of this up, though, in speculating about a day when microprinting would make it possible to have all the books ever written accessible from something that could be built into a home, a topic still imagined today. I suppose I took particular note of him commenting it "could cost far less and be worth more, and would certainly have more buyers, than those desk-top electronic computers that have been talked about for years." While he'd mentioned Feynman saying how DNA "encodes" information, he had seemed pretty much set on reproducing print at a very small size but still "as itself," accessed through mechanical and optical means. Still, even so the article did acknowledge the contrast between what one person can read and what's been written, and how judgement of sources and the opinions of others about those sources is more fundamental to being "well-rounded." It was there, perhaps, that "something amusing from the past" began to speak to all times.

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