Muddle-headed Kay (mhw) wrote,
Muddle-headed Kay
mhw

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Books and ideas

A friend of mine just pointed me to something interesting: "Reversing Vandalism". I looked at it, and had some thoughts. I'd have pointed you at her post, but it's limited-readership, so I'll reproduce my comment here:

I thought that was a fascinating thing to do with the damaged books, even though I didn't particularly like many of the resulting works.

What I did find interesting above all was in a section of the accompanying text:

staking out the library's third floor where the vandal liked to dump the desecrated books


Desecrated? To me, that's taking bibliolatry a little too far, even in a library context.

How can a book be sacred? If anything, surely it's the ideas, the knowledge in them that could be, not the containers themselves.

These books were taken - though the vandal didn't intend that - at happenstance:

Though the vandal had clearly relied on the library catalog to seek out books on gay issues, he evidently did not understand the search results: Among the books destroyed were works by author Gay Talese and those concerning the Enola Gay, the famous World War II warplane, as well as romance novels and books on women's health.


That makes it far more interesting for me than if the books had all been carefully selected so that they dealt exclusively with LGBT* issues: they're bound together in this destruction merely by the power of one word: gay. The vandal failed because he sought to damage an idea, not the books-in-themselves, and you can't destroy an idea.

Books may be expensive, rare, beautifully wrought, commodities, art objects, but... aren't ideas infinitely more than that?
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