There’s something very strange and non-ironic about the Electronic Cigarette, a cigarette shaped device which mimics an actual cigarette using electronically vaporized liquid nicotine, rechargeable battery, and pressure sensors. (Check out these companies here, here, and here.) I can’t figure out if E-Cigarettes are supposed to help you quit smoking, or to exploit the gestural and oral flourishes of smoking, or simply to deliver nicotine without the other harsh elements to your body and/or environment. I won’t get into the culture of smoking — its hegemony of rebellion and corporately endorsed counter-culturalism — but rather, investigate the prevalence of this “e” prefix.
The capital “E” stood, and still does, for “Electronic,” though it’s been dropped to lowercase in the same “easy going” approachable rhetoric of Apple’s lowercase “i,” which in my mind is aimed at the narcissism of consumerism. I’m not complaining; I think e-mail, e-harmony, e-vite, and e-bay all serve us more e-ffeciently (as for e-gypt, I’m still looking forward to when I can charge my cell in those pyramids). Jokes aside, the “e” has come to mean “efficient” more than “electronic.” I always love it when I drive past some ghetto-ass internet cafe or electronic store with either an “e” or “i” in front of their name. It’s become the default vernacular of this internet age.
And this all brings us to the eBook, our little corner’s contribution to this e-nterprise. It’s like the internet version of a chapbook — hopeful, conceptual, and done with tiny and loving hands. Issuu is ostentatiously messy, the Kindle is absurd, and there’s something administratively disappointing about a pdf you need to print out. We need more eBooks; Bear Parade (oh the nepotism!) rules, FriGG kinda gives each writer their own front page, elimae’s are longer in content but not designed, Lamination Colony’s (oh the nepotism!) eBooks are stunning, at times almost “directed” in a cinemagraphic sense; and it’s exciting to see Pangur Ban Party’s nod and influences. Yet I’m surprised there aren’t more eBooks out there. They’re better for the environment and only take up, what, 300KB? I recently saw a woman pensively cupping her Kindle like some incomplete prayer and thought “If you really have that much money to waste, meet me at the bar in 10 minutes.”
Georges Perec could’ve chosen any vowel to e-liminate and he chose the “e” in the mind-blowing A Void (just realized that might be a pun on “avoid”). Thanks to Vanna White, we know how important those vowels are. In no way am I suggesting any grim prophecy on Perec’s part to rid us of the “e”; I’m just sayin’ it’s kind of fun-e, how memor-e is the new currenc-e, and how some words just don’t look the same anymore.