Vikshepa Blog

Mental Distractions

09 Feb 2022

2022-02-09: A prodigious amount of paper

In North African and Middle Eastern countries, Jews traditionally preserve every scrap of paper in storage places called genizot - sometimes temporarily for formal ritual burial. I first learned of this from Amitav Ghosh's book, In an Antique Land - in which he describes his research in the Cairo Genizah, which is the most famous of them all.

Yesterday evening I spent a few hours at the office clearing the shelves of old files, pamphlets, reports, booklets, books. It is a difficult job, which evokes feelings that are somewhere between book-burning and gleeful liberation.

It came to me that too much is being written. People spend their whole lives writing reams of material that few people ever actually ever read - reports, manuals, guides, position statements and whatever put out by NGOs, religious organizations, academic institutions and governments. When it comes to throwing the material out it hits you. What a waste of time, of life, of energy and the earth's resources! It makes me ask myself what I am doing here too. Perhaps at least I should put an expiry date on this stuff.

Most of my reading and writing today is digital, at least, so it won't end up in landfill.

Tags: diary
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