Phenomenon: The book 2004

It is claimed that due to the mass expansion of digital technology a book as a medium has become an endangered species. (It seems to me, however, that an endangered species is rather a reader.) But as long as the planet Earth bears such species as a poet lyricist, a romance writer and a story-teller the book will last.

From the time immemorial written texts have also been properly looked after through the writers' cooperation with painters, illustrators, scribes, printers, graphic artists, bookbinders and others. Together they create pieces of art which are bound to resist technical inventions and information infectors and affects of all kinds. But there still remains a question - how can we help a book to survive all floods and fires, worms or purges, sad prognoses and disfavours of the time?

For several years has one German gallery had on display heavy, polished folios from all over the world, made from high-quality, durable materials such as limestone, granite, gneiss - anything you imagine. Jiří Kratochvíl, a laureate of the Karel Čapek prize, once showed this prize to me - it is all made of bronze, of course. We have seen everything: books in tins, wooden books, books written on bark, turtle shells, in clay, on sheet metal or glass. People scribble on walls, their bodies, even into the darkness of the sky. They write deep in the sea or far in space. People have always competed as for the size and form of books.

A book is far from fulfilling just the function of preserving facts and aestetic information. A book is a joy. It is a joyful message passed from one person to another. A book is not an object thrown into the unknown. Both poles - authors and recipients - are mutually connected, they are related through the choice. Together they complete the work that would otherwise lose its sense. As artists to their readers and spectators, and readers to their creators, we keep reassuring the other that we still have a partner for a dialogue. And it should be this way because we need each other.

The book, whatever its form was, is at present or will be in the future, will not vanish from the human society. And also this modest exibition and competition with immodest outcome makes me believe that book is yet not an endangered species.

Zbyněk Fišer

May 2004, Brno

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