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Epilogue

It is true that not everyone has something to say. Not everyone enjoys the role of participant. But for those persons of intelligence and imagination who have something to say, I say that it is a matter of duty to say it. And the opportunity to say something in a very effective way has presented itself. Certainly the complexity of the technology is no longer a barrier. Nor is the cost. Any person, if they have the skill to tie their shoes, can make good use of these machines and their software.

Beyond the obvious increase in the formal reach of the arts, there is the chance to redefine the path and power of the idea in its transfer from the one to the many. The environment of the edition may no longer be one of merely the producer and the consumer. Rather, the potential is there for something like a community of producers engaged in continuous exchange, a Pascal's circle of intellectual and creative energies in continuous interaction. Pascal's circle, to remind you, is one in which the center is nowhere, the circumference everywhere.

I cannot help but think of William Blake, who wanted very much to revive the form of the Gothic book. I think of his small, hand-printed and hand-colored editions of Milton or Marriage of Heaven and Hell. They were in editions of less than a dozen, I think, each painstakingly printed from relief plates. It was expedient, of course. Blake was printing on a shoestring. Few of his countrymen took him seriously, and certainly no publisher seemed wont to take an interest. But imagine, if you will, Blake with a Macintosh computer, some modest painting software, a few digital fonts, and maybe a color laser printer. Perhaps none of it would have made him any more interesting to the public or to publishers, but it would certainly have allowed more copies of his work to reach more hands, and that at least would have added volume to his voice and perhaps some potential for greater effectiveness.

I cannot help but think, too, that the world is full of Blakes even now, each engaged in the struggle to make public the fruits of their private invention. They have been put off by the sheer enormity of the maze that stands between them and fulfillment. They are waiting for suggestions. So here, for all the Blakes among us, for you, for me -- for everyperson -- is that opportunity -- the chance to have an effect -- the chance to be subversive, as only the artist can be. If you believe in the future and in the capacity of human beings to transcend habit and the tyranny of numbers, then the line forms here. The danger rests in not acting. People are going to press this new advantage -- all sorts of people. Let us do what we can to ensure that it is the best people who take the lead.


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Also by E. R. Beardsley

Imaginary Places
History -- a form of fiction that masquerades as something else.


Intangible
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