With the advent of electrophoretic ink, the demise of the manual typewriter (the last producer is switching to refrigerators), and now, Amazon.com’s announcement that they are selling more e-books than print books, those flexible sheets of wood pulp known as paper seem to be on their way out. And while we’ve talked about how this will affect everything, how this will not affect everything, and how we should stop talking about how this will or will not affect everything, we seem to have forgotten, once again, the real victims of the digital revolution: book burners.

Biblioclasm has a long, rich history around the world – longer than paper, in fact – and whether you’re a Chinese emperor or a dystopian fireman, there’s nothing that warms the soul and eases the mind quite like burning something that you don’t understand. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than a lighter to ignite a pile of e-readers, and even if you do get them going, the toxic fumes they emit may do more harm than the vice they contain.

So, when the paper book is a thing of the past, but subversion is still a threat to the future, what will we burn?

  • Art:
    Burning art was once as popular as burning books, but as art has gotten more and more abstract, it has become difficult to discern the subversive from the surreal. Be safe, burn it all.
  • Guitars:
    From Bob Dylan to The Clash to our once beloved Dixie Chicks, these six-string subversion machines have helped preachers of sedition disguise their messages as music for years. Burn them, before synthesizers make them as obsolete as paper.
  • Marijuana:
    Often found near guitars, this vile weed is a psychedelic gateway to music festivals and relativistic thinking. Just make sure you bring s’mores to the bonfire, because nothing whets the appetite like the satisfaction of watching this devilish plant burn.
  • Witches:
    Moral relativism has led to an unprecedented number of so-called “spiritualists.” But we all know that “spiritualism” is just code for paganism, aka witchcraft.
  • Cabins:
    Anyone who doesn’t live in the city at this point must be treated as a potential threat. What do they need with all that privacy and quiet? How are they getting reception out there? How are they recharging their iPads? What are they reading?
  • Trees:
    Like cabins, forests foment and conceal revolution. Who knows how many berry pickers are living off the grid under the cover of our great nation’s forests. Plus, there will be no trees to block the precious wind energy we will need for the Migration.
  • Earth:
    Before making the final migration to virtual reality, the planet must be thoroughly scorched to prevent the survival of any remaining cave dwellers who may plot to unmount our glorious Administrator – Hail! Hail!
  • E-Books:
    Safe inside OASIS, e-books are readily burned by dragging them to the mystery hole in the corner of your home interface.

For more book-burning fun, check out my review of Vladimir Sorokin’s latest dystopian novel, Day of the Oprichnik.


 

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