“A man attempts to salvage burnt manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, Mali, on Tuesday. While some of the ancient manuscripts were destroyed by Islamist radicals, reports indicate that most were hidden and therefore survived.” NPR
The saga of manuscript libraries of Timbuktu continues with events of tragedy and courage not less than legendary historical episodes of conquest, commerce and scholarship. This is new legend.
Books format experience and bodies format consciousness. Books also live in a wider field of communications while bodies live in a society and both respond to crowding. Such considerations play into dimensions of space, time and informatics.
Eerie similarities of books and bodies may not be coincidental. Looking exactly between we can discover a shared continuity. This is the realm of somatic extension. For example, “close reading, hyper reading and machine reading”, as projected by Katherine Hayles, offers an evidence of extra-somatic extension as cognitive skills expand.
But expansion does not provoke displacement between books and bodies. As Henry Sussman puts it; “The book into which we gaze is a mirror with no silvering, whose readout is as diffuse and unfathomable as our familiar images of ourselves – and identities – are not.” Books and bodies are a resilient somatic extension of consciousness.
“…Without the ability to sync personal documents (i.e., novels purchased from other sources), I found that I was segregating my content by device. …I feel like I’m reading more than ever, but none of it is actually getting done, because there is content coming at me from so many different channels that it’s fragmenting my reading time.” TeleRead
Here is an issue on the move; will we sync our e-libraries between our e-book devices? Such virtual mobility may be the complement of portable reading devices.