A Lost Art

Let it be noted that I am an audible newspaper reader. I gasp. I murmur. I cry. I guess I just get involved, is all.

But for all my emotional investment, I am fairly lowbrow. I wish I were a better newspaper reader, heading first with an open mind and heart to Issues of International and Moral Importance. I do try to be. I (a little compulsively) begin with Section A (need I mention that this is the New York Times I'm talking about, my hometown paper? And that I go with the print version?), and go through the whole thing in order. Only rarely do I jump pages; instead, I methodically work my way through to counter my low impulses (why do I like to read about solitary crazy events? I do not know).

As a result of all my dramatic vocalizations, and a general blurriness of boundaries that comes with early morning and breakfast, my children are pretty interested in the newspaper. But here's what they can't do: figure out how to get from one page to another.

If they see the continuation of an article on say, page A17, when I get up from the table to get iced coffee, they ask, "Wait, how to I get to page A1 so I can see the beginning?"

When I was a kid all I wanted was to figure out how my grandfather folded it into four neat vertical divisions, something I am proud to say I eventually mastered. But I don't remember when I learned to navigate sections—Arts, Science, etc—and am beginning to realize that my children: they might not learn this at all. It's gone, like learning to fasten high-button shoes.

Not news (ooh, sorry, I didn't mean that), but still: strange and wistful and slightly vertiginous.

One thought on “A Lost Art

  1. The way of the rotary phone, the record player, the cassette — even cursive writing (which I really don’t care about, actually). Just think what’s coming: computer driven cars —

    Like

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