Sunday, January 03, 2010

On Paper, Candles, and Rituals

Paper is to digital tech what the candle was to electric light.

One replaces the other in most all material instances, but the former saves a special position in ritual.

There are times when we need to feel that pencil sketch across the pad. There are times we need to feel the strike of a match and hear the sizzle of a wick.

And that is good. Neither is undone by the new technology. If anything, both are enhanced.


  1. The above sounds like an apology to me where none is necessary. Candles and rituals scream of the past not the present. We use candles when the electricity fails. You statements above seem to suggest that being paperless is somehow not as deep or fulfilling as using paper or as you say "to feel that pencil scratch across the pad" I do not need to "feel the strike of the match and hear the sizzle of the wick", I need light!!!
    Do not apologize for being paperless, just try to be so!

  2. I think the comparison is spot on. The candle industry is huge considering that electic light is the norm. Candles provide ambiance and mood. They are present at ceremony and ritual. Are you going to have an electric birthday cake? Just as some people -myself included- love to snowshoe all day (I could take a snowmobile) and relax with a good book (leatherbound Lord Of The Rings from when I was 10) in front of a fire (I have radiant heat floors), some enjoy studying archery. Do we really need archery anymore? I for one, enjoyed looking at the handwriting on the Christmas cards I received this year. When The weather clears, I'm going for a bike ride, and then I'm going to play my acoustic guitar. No apology needed.

  3. Hmm..I think it's about needs and the need is often the ritual. Birthday cakes are a prime example of the need and ritual.

    However, in daily happenings, paper is not something that I need. I use paper when my laptop or Touch is not available. It soon get transfered to something digital.

    If the power goes out, I might just pull out a candle and a compostition book and write a little poetry.

  4. The head of OPEC was once asked how the OPEC countries would handle the Peak Oil problem back in the 1970s, and his response was memorable. "The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stone."

    Paper and candles will be needed in ritual space because they have a cachet value in the collective unconscious which a touch screen cannot replace (at least not in the next thousand years).

    But no one is suggesting that a classroom be a fixed ritual environment, either.


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