I puffed a bit at this because I, myself, have read my Kindle on some elegant trains.
But after my somewhat defensive fog began to clear, I realized that, to some degree, she might be right--at least when it comes to me.
I do know some things about beauty. In fact, I can tell you the difference--according to Edmund Burke--between the beautiful and the sublime. I can also discuss how the picturesque is different from both of these. I am especially moved by the sublime in both nature and literature.
But when it comes to aesthetics, especially in terms of visual artifice--I am woefully inept and indifferent.
- In college, I would wear turquoise sweatpants with a red NCAA championship sweatshirt. With Reeboks. (A look which earned much astonishment and derision from my fashion-savvy cousin.)
- I don't like to shop.
- The only new clothing items I've purchased in the past six months (or year?) are some t-shirts from Kohls.
- I only wear natural fibers.
- I chose my couches because they don't show dirt, and all four sections recline.
- I only purchase cars that I can sleep in, if necessary. My last car was a pickup truck. Now, I drive a minivan, and I love it.
- I rarely buy shoes.
- My favorite shoes are Chaco flip-flops. I also like Danskos, Borns, and my very old pair of second-hand Naturalizer black boots.
- I've been carrying the same Fossil purse for about a year-and-a-half. Still going strong.
- I don't wear make-up.
- I don't blow dry my hair.
- The glider that we got when our baby was born? Seven years later, it's still a central piece of furniture in our living room*.
- The only art on my walls is by my children or my mother (all beautiful, I think).
- I like quilts and knits more than I like paintings.
- I like stunning, spare prose much more than complex, lyrical poetry.
- When I worked at a used bookstore, I was not very interested in the rare books. I didn't associate much "value" with the book objects**.
So is it any surprise that I like the Kindle? I suppose not. Granted, for a long time, I didn't want one. I couldn't imagine wanting one. But then, about a year ago, I suddenly wanted one real bad. At first, I loved it. Loved. it. And I still do. But, admittedly, I find that, sometimes, I like to read a hard-copy novel. It's not that I rarely handle "real" books. As an English instructor and PhD student, I handle books every day. But, every once in a while, these are not enough, and I like the feel of a hard-copy novel in my purse or in my hands at bed time.
But I don't think it's the beauty of books that I miss. It's the tactile experience. It's the way a book affects all of my senses. When you pick up a hard-copy book, your brain has at least five seconds to prepare for the words, to orient itself to that particular book and all of its bookish nature (the size, the cover, the font, the feel of the pages, the smell). But with the Kindle, much of that is lost. No matter what book you're reading, you're picking up the same thing--the size, color, and font remain the same--and the brain does not receive diverse imagistic and tactile cues. And my brain misses those cues. And some books just smell so good.
But the Kindle is practical, and I'm a practical girl. It's easy to pack. I don't have to decide which books to pack. I can download a book in just a few seconds. Voila.
So my friend is probably right. Or perhaps I would say that though I do know a few things about Beauty, I am often insensitive to it. The sublime? Yes. I am moved by it. The beautiful? Not always so much.
But. right now, I need to finish this post so I can go curl up with my Kindle and get through the third book in the Hunger Games series. So there. Now you know the truth. Good Enough Woman is a Philistine.
*And even I am bothered by this.
**But there are some old books that do move me. Usually old books--books made with leather and amazing materials. Or original editions of Charles Dickens literary magazines. Things like that. But I am not moved by, say, a first edition copy of Interview with the Vampire.