An Argument for Paper

An Argument for Paper

I tend to bounce back and forth on the “paper” or “digital” arrangement1. However, I have an example, from one of the last days of March, 20072, and it’s a simple entry, leads to a series of entries, but in itself, the note starts from a desktop copy of Marcus Aurelius, and the simple inscription — in the book itself?


Simple enough, a date. I look it up on my transmogrified web files, that was originally in a different format, in a separate location, but I didn’t lose it over, the years and web-server migrations3.

That’s its third or fourth location, on a website. Same entry, and I could locate it because I paper notation that directed me to exactly where I left it. What I like about paper, and, an argument for paper.”

An Argument for Paper

That same meditation, from a different translation?

“11. To what use am I now putting the powers of my soul? Examine yourself on this point at every step, and ask, ‘How stands it with the part pf me men call the master-part? Whose sol inhabits me at this moment? A child’s, a lad’s, a woman’s, a tyrant’s a dumb ox, or a wild beast?’

— Marcus Aurelius Meditations Book V, #11

The question though, as I keep three versions of Marcus Aurelius handy, close to my work, more as inspiration, and as a way to dip into material when I feel stuck, or lost. The satisfaction of paper, it’s there, but more, in my mind, is the way a book can transcend the current time.

Looking at the entry, just a date, then digging up the exact location, from just the numbers, that works, and it makes me think about where I was, and what is now. Notes in the margin, only in book, and a suitable as an argument for paper.

That specific paper book, it’s a lithe and beaten new translation, the second beat-up copy of Meditations that I’ve dragged around with me. Carried it for years as part of my daily travel gear. Which is why I like and an argument for paper.

However, when I travel, now? My current favorite copy of Marcus Aurelius is a digital book, with numerous highlighted passages, but digital, nonetheless. While it offers notations, as soon as I upgrade hardware, I wonder how many notations I’ll lose.

With that second copy of the book? The binding is about to give out, and various pages are bookmarked with old in-flight napkins, a boarding pass, a slip of paper from I-don’t-know, a fishing supply sticker, and other ephemera, mostly paper. I’m suspicious that the binding will be replaced with duck tape, ’ere long.

That’s the one copy of the book, most of the translations are the typical public domain Marcus Aurelius Meditations versions. Somewhat stilted, and little arcane, the spirit of the text doesn’t always convey. Still, as text that is almost two millennia old? The sentiments stand up well, even if I rarely (most near never) read it in its original Latin.

That’s why I like the one version, the Loeb Classical Library because it has original Greek on one page and the corresponding page is a translation.

An Argument for Paper

I go back and forth, and I don’t think there is one right sawer, but hard copy, paper, it has a place in my world. Not all the time, as the digital divide gradually erodes my tenuous grip on paper alone.

  1. The question being, paper or plastic?
  2. This entry about a Good Roman, and my first use was 3.30.07
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