... and of choices made ... and reversed?
In When Dessert Becomes the Main Course
I tried to describe a hypertextual surfing experience, and to give a feel
of that experience as well. Michel
Cerf, writing from England, added a deliciously fitting metaphor which
deserves to be linked to that column, and to be part of the experience:
I am certain that many will feel as overwhelmed as the
intelligent but unschooled young lady who was first taken to the British
Library; it is said that she burst out in tears, and many a critic and
an educationist have attempted to explain these tears (were they of joy,
upon discovering the extent of human knowledge? Or of sadness, at realising
that she could only taste a small amount of this? Or of a more philosophical
nature, as Spinoza stated that "determinatio est negatio", and that the
moment she would choose one book she would renounce for the moment all
the others, as only can be read at the same time.
In a later e-correspondance, in a manner similar to a link, but actually
quite simply another letter, he adds:
Re: the weeping lady in the library, the image is not
mine, although I added the Spinoza quotation, without, sorry, taking the
trouble to translate it. But you know that "determinatio est negatio"
means "to choose is to renounce", as does the small child offered a handful
of Sweets and told to take one only - like the lady in the library, he
weeps, for he cannot choose and finds the pressure unbearable!
And what can I say, other than to wish that I'd written it myself. Perhaps
we should be relieved that hypertext allows us to backtrack and to travel
the other roads that we (originally) didn't choose. Yet on the other hand,
though a plunge into the vastness of what is available on the web can be,
as Michel suggests, both exhilirating and saddening, perhaps it's our loss
that it's not also limiting. If by choosing we don't have to renounce,
then we can go home again. And as enticing a possibility as that
is, somehow it sounds wrong.
Go to: When Dessert Becomes the Main Course,
Go to: that semi-permanent update page,
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