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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

Information Overflow

  1. FADE IN.

  2. Act 1

  3. INT - STUDY - DAY

  4. PETER checks his phone.

  5. PETER (V.O.): Here's an answer request from a Quoran: Why does my theatre professor have so many books (poetry, prose and drama) in his room?

  6. Pausing.

  7. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I don't know about his professor.

  8. Pausing.

  9. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's pretty common that people of the older generations have many books in rooms.

  10. Pausing.

  11. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The student questioner obviously finds it strange to read ink on paper when there's information overflow on the web.

  12. Pausing.

  13. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): That explains why the question is posed in the first place. Storing mass volumes of books is extraordinary to the young.

  14. Pausing.

  15. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I'm not young. But I read information on screens but not books these days.

  16. Act 2


  18. Recalling.

  19. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When I was a high school student in the late 1960s, I only bought school-prescribed ones.

  20. Recalling.

  21. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I borrowed books from public libraries. But for those I could borrow, they're of marginal relevance to my studies.

  22. Recalling.

  23. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Having no money, I didn't have other options. I had to work part-time to support myself.

  24. Pausing.

  25. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When I began my matriculation class in 1971, I was thrilled when the School allowed me a book grant of $200. I could buy a few books with that then.

  26. Recalling.

  27. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In 1976 when I began reading Philosophy all by myself, I bought any recommended books available in Hong Kong as I was already working full-time.

  28. Pausing.

  29. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I also asked my wife-to-be and friends to buy some books for me while they were visiting London.

  30. Recalling.

  31. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I got dozens of them. Many were classic works of philosophers. I placed them nicely in bookshelves to please myself.

  32. Pausing.

  33. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I tried to read them all, but some were really difficult to understand. I preferred to develop my own philosophical systems, even though they're raw.

  34. Recalling.

  35. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In 1981, I sat my degree exams and I passed alright. Since then, nearly all of my Philosophy books have been staying where they're until recently.

  36. Peter takes a look of the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy near him.

  37. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): I couldn't resist the impulse to buy the handy copy around 10 years ago. I used to read volumes of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy at the Hong Kong Polytechnic Library from 1980-1981.

  38. Pausing.

  39. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): When I began to study law in 1981, I bought dozens of expensive law books. I nearly read them all in my 365/year studying routine.

  40. Peter takes a look of law books all over the place, including some on the floor.

  41. PETER (V.O) (Cont'd): They're dated as the law is developing fast. But they were as dear to me as my wife way back when. I find it hard to disown them.

  42. Peter then focuses on a pile of leadership books under the TV set.

  43. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): When I worked as a lawyer-administrator in the intellectual property context, I became interested in creativity, innovation and leadership.

  44. Recalling.

  45. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): I went to Book Fairs to buy cheap ones. I felt satisfied just in acquiring them.

  46. Recalling.

  47. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): I only skimmed through them. I haven't disposed of any of the them, believing that I might need to refer to them someday.

  48. Pausing.

  49. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When I travelled to English-speaking countries, I would also buy books at airports.

  50. Reflecting.

  51. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): Isn't it hoarding even if it's books?

  52. Act 3


  54. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): For most of the information I need, I can mine them from the web including law.

  55. Pausing.

  56. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Contents in books are dated. They've passed the best-before date even before they're printed.

  57. Pausing.

  58. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): Upon retirement, I thought about writing books as I didn't have any books written and published by me on my bookshelves.

  59. Pausing.

  60. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But who would invest the time to read them? Even if they're given away free.

  61. Pausing.

  62. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): The reasons why the theatre professor having so many books in his room might be similar to mine.

  63. Smiling.

  64. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The professor, like the student, has lots yet to explore.

  65. Pausing.

  66. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In any case, books don't change people, paragraphs, sentences and words do.

  67. Peter types a few words and sentences on the phone.

  68. FADE OUT.

  69. THE END

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