Saturday, February 14, 2009

Of Philistines and Fire

...this lively and promising part must also, according to by our definition, go with the Philistines; because it is its class and its class instinct which it seeks to affirm — its ordinary self, not its best self; and it is a machinery, an industrial machinery, and power and pre-eminence and other external goods, which fill its thoughts, and not an inward perfection.

....Our society distributes itself into Barbarians, Philistines and Populace; and America is just ourselves with the Barbarians quite left out, and the Populace nearly. -- Matthew Arnold

"(Fire's) real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences."
"Today's figures for operations in the urban area alone account for the elimination of a total of 2,750 pounds of conventional editions, 836 pounds of first editions, and 17 pounds of manuscripts were also destroyed. Twenty-three anti-social elements were detained, pending re-education." Fahrenheit 451
I have been following the CPSIA updates from various blogs and trying not to feel it too much, but this got past my guard:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of childrens books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just cant believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed!
As Red Cardigan says:

Many of the books my children loved were gently-loved classics from our local used book store. It's sad to see such a terrible act of destruction wreaked upon treasures from the past, all because greedy companies used lead paint in plastic garbage peddled to American children in the recent past.

Melissa Wiley has collected some links to further information on the subject of CPSIA and how it affects small home businesses and resale of used toys and books.

Also, Studeo has this Illegal Books Meme and more links. If you want to see my daughter's blog posts inspired by love of Antique Books, go here. (I'm borrowing some of her photos for this post).

Another reason to love the internet, now as the modern equivalent of the old monasteries -- so long as Google Books and Gutenberg are out there, the old books won't be gone completely, but it hurts to hear of the beautiful old editions going out with tomorrow's trash. It really, really hurts. There's something about the physical presence of an old book that links us to our ancestors and to a world where books were loved enough to be put into beautiful editions. When I pick up an old book, often shabby on the surface but well handled, well made, well-loved, quiet but rich in form and content, I feel connected to the Permanent Things in body as well as spirit. I am afraid that though the cyberworld and nice reprints might preserve the soul of the books, some of their sheer physical presence will be gone forever. It bothers me that it should have been such a casual, slipshod, reflexive decision on the part of a government not operating with the consent of the people and in weird, dysfunctional cahoots with big business .... certainly not with the consent of the democracy of the dead that GK Chesterton called tradition.

"Somewhere the saving and putting away had to begin again and someone had to do the saving and the keeping, one way or another, in books, in records, in people's heads, any way at all so long as it was safe, free from moths, silverfish, rust and dry-rot, and men with matches."

1 comment:

lissla lissar said...

Throwing out books.

Throwing out books irreplaceable old books.

That causes near-physical pain. I've been sort of following the enactment of the law, in horror and outrage. It's awful.