I tend to put magazines on the radiator when I'm clearing away the clutter that accumulates on the dining table, so it didn't surprise me that an old magazine had slipped into the rarely inspected space between the radiator and the wall. But if, at the point when the magazine had been spotted, you had asked me what old magazine I'd hoped had hidden out back there and escaped my routine recycling, I'd have said the issue of The Atlantic with the David Foster Wallace essay "Host."
I have the essay in the book "Consider the Lobster," but the book had taken the magazine's big pages that had little colored boxes around text and wide margins with corresponding colored boxes of additional text and reduced it to small black-and-white clutter, and I'd been avoiding reading it for years.
I exult when the magazine is the issue of The Atlantic with "Host." I display the layout, note the colors, and bitch about the book.
Response: "It's like hypertext."
I look on line and immediately find the essay with all the boxes moved out of sight and words and phrases neatly hyperlinked. How deflating! Is the magazine discovery nothing at all — or nothing more than a prompt to Google the old essay, which now all of you have too?
I scan the magazine version. There's something nice about the way they found to graphically depict hyperlinking, I suppose, but more than anything, I think about how much I love reading on line, fully at ease with clicking through things I'm in the middle of and flowing all over everywhere for hours, completely enthralled, perhaps never to return to the place where I started. There's nothing at all like the copy of "Consider the Lobster," sitting on my bedside table for years, reminding me of the unread essay it contains.