Tip of the Quill: A Journal
Would Baudelaire hate the Kindle?

I love this new post over at HarperCollins’ HarperStudio blog: Would Charles Baudelaire hate the Kindle? As they quote the man himself:

“As the photographic industry was the refuge of every would-be painter, every painter too ill-endowed or too lazy to complete his studies, this universal infatuation bore not only the mark of a blindness, an imbecility, but had also the air of a vengeance. I do not believe, or at least I do not wish to believe, in the absolute success of such a brutish conspiracy, in which, as in all others, one finds both fools and knaves; but I am convinced that the ill-applied developments of photography, like all other purely material developments of progress, have contrib uted much to the impoverishment of the French artistic genius, which is already so scarce….Poetry and progress are like two ambitious men who hate one another with an instinctive hatred, and when they meet upon the same road, one of them has to give place. If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the multitude which is its natural ally.”

[On Photography, from the salon on 1859]

I’d argue that Baudelaire would have much less against the Kindle than he would against the Internet or print-on-demand publishing in general, since those are really the revolutions that are more of a 1:1 comparison (“X:publishing as camera:painting” would be a nightmare of a SAT question, come to think of it) but I still appreciate the concept, and I love the line about poetry and progress. I don’t agree with it by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t mean Baudelaire’s phrasing isn’t absolute gold.