What makes a book not a movie?

What makes a book not a movie?

“…it is our expression that there are no positive differences: that all things are like a mouse and a bug in the heart of a cheese. Mouse and a bug: no two things could seem more unlike. They’re there a week, or they stay there a month: both are then only transmutations of cheese. I think we’re all bugs and mice, and are only different expressions of an all-inclusive cheese.

Or that red is not positively different from yellow: is only another degree of whatever vibrancy yellow is a degree of: that red and yellow are continuous, or that they merge in orange.

So then that, if, upon the basis of yellowness and redness, Science should attempt to classify all phenomena, including all red things as veritable, and excluding all yellow things as false or illusory, the demarcation would have to be false and arbitrary, because things colored orange, constituting continuity, would belong on both sides of the attempted borderline.

As we go along, we shall be impressed with this:

That no basis for classification, or inclusion and exclusion, more reasonable than that of redness and yellowness has ever been conceived of.

Science has, by appeal to various bases, included a multitude of data. Had it not done so, there would be nothing with which to seem to be. Science has, by appeal to various bases, excluded a multitude of data. Then, if redness is continuous with yellowness: if every basis of admission is continuous with every basis of exclusion, Science must have excluded some things that are continuous with the accepted. In redness and yellowness, which merge in orangeness, we typify all tests, all standards, all means of forming an opinion—

Or that any positive opinion upon any subject is illusion built upon the fallacy that there are positive differences to judge by—

That the quest of all intellection has been for something—a fact, a basis, a generalization, law, formula, a major premise that is positive: that the best that has ever been done has been to say that some things are self-evident—whereas, by evidence we mean the support of something else—

That this is the quest; but that it has never been attained; but that Science has acted, ruled, pronounced, and condemned as if it had been attained.”
–Charles Fort
writing in The Book of the D*mned (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When I am asked for my philosophy of life, I sometimes respond that I am a Fortean.

What is a Fortean?

A follower of Charles Fort, who I have quoted above.

Saying you are a Fortean, though, is always a bit of a joke.

You see, according to Fort, you can’t really “be” anything to the exclusion of anything else.

Everything is simply a different degree of everything else…there are no hard and fast “things” in Fort’s writings.

Start with a Fortean, and eventually, you’ll find an element that takes you to “another” philosophy, and from that one to another, and then another, and another, and eventually, you end up back with your Fortean.

Fort said, “One measures a circle, beginning anywhere.” That’s the source of the name of one of my other blogs, “The Measured Circle”. Unlike this one, which does have some artificial constraints on subject matter, I write about whatever I want there. 🙂

This is a joke I wrote years ago: “Question: why did the Fortean cross the road? Answer: there aren’t two sides.”

Let’s say there was a North side and a South side. If you stand exactly in the middle where are you…North or South? If neither, how do you define that middle? Can’t you keep widening it, until both sides are considered as one?

That’s a whole lot of philosophy to get to the point of this post. 😉

Right now, most people have unbreachable, rigid concepts which separate, say, a book and a movie.

In the future, though, will that continue to be true?

If I asked you to define a movie, you would probably come up with something about a moving visual image.

Some books have that now…from animated covers to enhanced editions which may actually include movie clips and other videos.

Let’s say there is an enhanced edition of a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., which includes video of the I Have a Dream speech.

Is that not a book?

Even if 80% of the book is the written word?

You would probably define a book as something about, well, written words.

When you are reading subtitles in a foreign language movie, is that a book?

Most people would immediately say no.

It’s a movie…with subtitles.

That enhanced e-book? It’s a book…with video.

What is an audiobook?

I tend to think of an audiobook as just as much a book as a p-book (paperbook).

It’s still the author’s words…you are just consuming them differently.

If someone is print disabled and listens to the great works of classical literature, do you not consider them well-read?

As technology expands, I think the lines will blur.

We may come to expect the ability to see video in books.

We may also find it natural to pause a movie of Alice in Wonderland and bring up the text of the corresponding chapter to the scene which we are watching.

We might pick up again after the scene we read, or continue where we left off.

Part of it might be an opera.

Now, I have to admit, this really appeals to me, but I like lots of things happening at once…I like to say that I love chaos. 🙂

Most people don’t.

I would guess most of you would not want your books, especially your fiction books, to have video, audio, and more.


You are fine with italics and bold, which are visual effects.

You may be okay with a map being in a book, or a “family tree” for a complex multiple generation work.

Do you like footnotes, endnotes, and/or cross references?

What if instead of having things like, “Said Pat”, there was a little picture of the speaker at the beginning of each paragraph of dialogue?

What if the picture moved?

What about a separate font color for each of ten characters? That would be expensive to do in the old days, but not so expensive for an e-book on a tablet.

I’m really just ruminating on this, but I think books will become much more dynamic than they are now, with more interactivity and more media.

Not every book, and not for every person. There is a certain…calmness in just reading the printed word.

I just don’t know how long that’s going to be the popular mainstream, though…

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


9 Responses to “What makes a book not a movie?”

  1. Harold Delk Says:

    Oh my! If nothing can exist without its opposite then there can be no vocabulary words unless there are also non-vocabulary words, therefore books cannot exist… unless there are also books containing nothing but non-vocabulary words. Where does that leave the future of the Kindle?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      It’s not that nothing can exist without its opposite…it’s that there can be no opposites. 🙂 Essentially, defining something as something is an artificial construct. If you peek and poke around the outer edges of that construct, you’ll find the definition to be fuzzy, and from there can get to something you might think is an opposite…and back again.

      What would you consider to be the opposite of a word? Not sure. I suppose I might define a word as something made up of letter units which, as a whole, is not a visual representation of a concept it is meant to convey. Does that mean pictograms are not words? Perhaps…it all becomes complicated when try to pin it down.

      As to books not existing…these artificial constructs are handy, and can be used…until they fail.

      I tell people that as a “Fortean”, I deal in probabilities. I expect that if I let go of a glass I am holding in the air, it will fall…because gravity working is the most probable thing. If I’m a “good Fortean”, though, it shouldn’t bother me if it just hangs there. It was never a fact that it would fall, just a probability.

      We can imagine cases where it wouldn’t fall. You are in space. Perhaps you are under water. Maybe the glass is very light and filled with helium. In none of those cases has the “law of gravity” failed, of course…but when you start coming up with all of these exceptions you find that it’s harder to define the situation than you might have thought.

      • Harold Delk Says:

        Perhaps in the Fortean system, but I adhere to the Alan Watts philosophy in which opposites do exist and nothing may exist without its opposite existing as well (could also read “can exist”). A yin and yang type belief.

        An aside: I used to teach Excel to govt. employees and used to give them my favorite “gotcha” exercise. Develop a formula to display the calendar date Easter falls on based on the year. The typical class was accountants and engineers… who almost had logic explosions within a week. Twas fun!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Harold!

        Q. How many Wattseans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
        A. Two. One to screw it in…and one not to.


      • Harold Delk Says:

        Ha, finally you understand Buddhism as Dr. Watts and I understand it! 🙂

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Harold!

        I have always understood it…and not understood it. 😉

  2. Harold Delk Says:

    Are you familiar with the film “The Whisperer in Darkness?” I’ve not seen it, but will try to track it down soon.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      I haven’t seen that 2011 movie, but have read the Lovecraft work on which it was based. Coincidentally (synchronistically?) I was reading within the past week about how Lovecraft specifically mentioned having read Charles Fort, and appears to have been inspired by some of Fort’s ideas.

      • Harold Delk Says:

        Charles Fort is a character in the film. I tried to watch on Amazon Prime, but no luck… Netflix only has on DVD. Watcheed the trailer and looks like a great late-night watch.

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