Light On and Light Through

With client books in various stages of evolution, plus the new blog part of this business, I’ve been quite busy for the past month. There is a renewed interest in blogging of course, which is growing exponentially, but this doesn’t eliminate the book as a method of keeping, transmitting and retaining information, thought, and meta-concepts.

When a person learns to speak another language in a rudimentary way, she may be able to communicate the basics, but the subtleties and metaphysics in the language can take a very long time to evolve.

I feel new media still has a long way to go in this regard, before it can embody the rich and deep interior landscape that has been the realm of literature for the past many-hundreds of years. The place of the book is still ensured, even if the book is in an electronic version. What comes to mind here is McLuhan’s studies in the effects of light “on” a screen as in movies, and light “through” a screen as in television.

We have all felt the fascination and seduction of a strong jewel-like visual image on the computer screen, followed by a let-down when that image is printed and looks flat, and rather emptied of the illumination. “Light through” brings it to life, “light on” – not so much. With text it is a different story. The “light through” makes us feel as if we were viewing, rather than reading, and other aspects of the brain and our sensorium are activated. The process is more rapid, scanning and viewing. “Light on” – the printed word – we are back in the realm of reading. Both methods are complementary, and we prepare differently for each.

Although the books we prepare are put together on the screen, written in Word, or some such program, then laid out in InDesign, their destination is not the screen, but the page. They are created as books, not as screen-experiences, not even as documents of screen-experiences. The process is one of projecting the mind to imagine the words on the page and to imagine the page in print, working from that point of view.

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One thought on “Light On and Light Through

  1. I find it so difficult to project the beauty of the world into photography and similarly agree that the differences in “look” and aesthetic appeal between different mediums is often more profound than people imagine.

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