The Gears of Knowledge.

While it may contain no grinding gears, or mechanized machinery parts, a book is and will continue to be a driving force of the dissemination of information and the spreading of knowledge. The Oxford American Dictionary defines the word machine as:

1. an apparatus using or applying mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task.

2. any device that transmits a force or directs its application.

3. an efficient and well-organized group of powerful people

4. a person who acts with the mechanical efficiency of a machine.  

Although there is no direct reference to books, we can easily attach the book’s function to any of these definitions. The book itself is an apparatus containing information, often written in many parts or sections, and spread across pages, or representations of pages. It is designed to perform the task of entertaining, educating, informing and preserving information. By it’s very creation, the book transmits the force of knowledge, directing the reader’s imagination by referencing collective, culturally shared experiences. While the book may not be an efficient and well-organized group of powerful people, the ideas expressed can be organized in an efficient manner, and may be used to fuel a very well-organized group of people, like when a management team at a big box store receives the “corporate manual” that they will follow to a tee, often becoming machine-like in the way they interact with their work environment. As a result of the corporate culture created by the corporate manual, the individual in the corporate big box retail outlet is forced to comply with the instrumentalist values expressed in company policy, accentuating their own efficiency and production purely for the sake of efficiency, which often comes at the cost of knowledge specific to the products being sold. At the same time, a book can be used as a catalyst for creating cultural machines that focus on producing ultimate values, such as love, harmony, and balance.

 

-Ian

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