How We Type
“Paper’s most powerful magic? Simply this. That paper allows us to be present—or appear to be present—when we are in fact absent,” Sansom writes in Paper. “It both breaks and bridges time and distance. I am talking to you now, for example, on paper. You cannot see me, and you cannot hear me. I may, for all you know, already be dead. But by the mysterious application of pen to paper, and by your patient reading, we have between us conjured the illusion of communication.”
The sentiment would clearly make a better argument for a computer screen. (And in the case of this article, it is an argument for a computer screen.) The authors make a case that the world needs paper, for commerce, for bureaucracy, for identity, but surely through countless references in each to its bookish traditions, and by nature of writing journalistic accounts, they mean to make a case for its continued literary presence as well. The books get caught somewhere between protest and plea to those who doubt paper’s relevance. They don’t give a clear answer, however, to the question that is probably on the minds of many in their ideal audience: do writers really need paper to create? And in the case of poetry (the older practice, perhaps more indebted to paper): is paper’s absence changing how the craft is written?