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When Jean-Claude Carrière imagined the future of books with Umberto Eco

The Italian and the French had the bibliophilia in common, countless readings and a fascination with stupidity. In 2009, Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière “Do not hope to get rid of books” (Grasset), interviews with broken batons led by the writer, a long time journalist with the “Nouvel Observateur” Jean-Philippe de Tonnac. While we have just learned with sadness of the disappearance of Jean-Claude Carrière, who died Monday, February 8, at the age of 89, we republish an excerpt from this conversation.

Screenwriter and writer Jean-Claude Carrière died at 89

Umberto Eco. Will the book disappear with the advent of the internet? […] There is actually very little to say on the subject. With the internet, we have returned to the alphabetical era. If ever we had thought we had entered the civilization of images, now the computer is reintroducing us into Gutenberg’s galaxy and everyone is now obliged to read. […] The book is like the spoon, the hammer, the wheel or the chisel. Once you’ve invented them, you can’t do better. […] Philippe Starck tried to innovate on the side of the lemon juicers, but his (to safeguard a certain aesthetic purity) lets the pips pass. […] Perhaps [le livre] It will evolve in its components, perhaps its pages will no longer be in paper. But he will remain what he is.
Jean-Claude Carrière. – It seems that the latest versions of the e-book now place it in direct competition with the printed book. The Reader model already contains 160 titles.
U. Eco. – It is obvious that a magistrate will more easily take home the 25,000 documents of a current trial if they are memorized in an e-book. In many areas, the electronic book will bring extraordinary ease of use. I just keep wondering if it will be very appropriate to read “War and Peace” on an e-book. We will see. Either way, we will no longer be able to read the Tolstoys or all the books printed on pulp, simply because they have already started to decay in our libraries. […]

READ ALSO> Last meeting with Umberto Eco

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Jean-Philippe de Tonnac. With the development of new media […], why not imagine despite everything a slow disaffection for the book object in its traditional form?
U. Eco. – Anything can happen. Books may interest tomorrow only a handful of fans who will go and satisfy their backward-looking curiosity in museums and libraries.
J.-C. Career. – If there are any left.
U. Eco. – But we can just as easily imagine that the formidable invention that is the Internet will disappear in its turn, in the future. Just like airships have disappeared from our skies. […] The same goes for the Concorde: the accident at Gonesse in 2000 was fatal. The story is still extraordinary. We invent a plane which, instead of taking eight hours to cross the Atlantic, takes only three. Who could have challenged such progress? But we renounce it, after this disaster in Gonesse, considering that the Concorde is too expensive. Is this a serious reason? The atomic bomb is also very expensive!

“Can we express ourselves well if we cannot read or write? “

J.-P. de Tonnac. I quote you this remark of Hermann Hesse […]. He was to express himself in the 1950s: “The more, over time, the needs for entertainment and popular education can be satisfied by new inventions, the more the book will regain its dignity and its authority. […]»
J.-C. Career. – In this sense he was not mistaken. Cinema and radio, even television, have taken nothing away from the book, nothing that it has not lost “without damage”.
U. Eco. – […] We can consider that writing is an extension of the hand and in this sense it is almost biological. It is the communication technology immediately linked to the body. […] While our modern inventions, cinema, radio, internet, are not organic.
J.-C. Career. – You are right to point out: we have never needed to read and write as much as we do today. We cannot use a computer if we cannot read and write. And even in a more complex way than in the past, because we have integrated new signs, new keys. […] We would experience a return to orality if our computers could directly transcribe what we say. But this poses another question: can we express ourselves well if we cannot read or write?
U. Eco. – Homer would undoubtedly answer: yes.
J.-C. Career. – But Homer belongs to an oral tradition. […] Can we imagine today a writer who would dictate his novel without the mediation of the written word and who would know nothing of all the literature that preceded him? […] Rimbaud was a prodigiously gifted young man, author of inimitable verses. But he was not what we call an autodidact. At 16, his culture was already classic, solid. He knew how to compose Latin verses.

© Grasset

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