Have you heard about the newest American wedge issue: banned books? We’ve always had books being banned, generally for understandable, even if unreasonable, reasons. Classic works often contain words or activities that are no longer acceptable. Many more contemporary works are designed to appeal to the reader’s most basic, animalistic imagination. How many excellent books question or even ignore such sacred human constructs as religion or American Exceptionalism. Nowadays it seems the universal excuse is that a book makes someone, anyone, uncomfortable.
Probably my favorite quotation is from Franz Kafka:
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.
I have been considering posting a banned book of the day or perhaps adding yet another list to suggest reading banned books. Unfortunately, back in 1967 I dedicated my life to memorizing Joyce’s Ulysses and I’m a few pages short so I might not be taking on any new work this late in the game. Come to think of it, Ulysses was a banned book. Yes. Yes. Yes.
But for the time being, these are the titles I suggested last month, banned or not banned:
01-01-22 – What’s Eating the Universe and Other Cosmic Questions — Paul Davies
01-02-22 – Eat the Mouth That Feeds You — Carribean Fragoza
01-03-22 – The I-Novel — Minae Mizumura
01-04-22 – David Foster Wallace Ruined My Suicide and Other Stories — D. D. Miller
01-05-22 – To Paradise — Hanya Yanagihara
01-06-22 – 100 Boyfriends — Bronte Purnell
01-07-22 – Kicking and Dreaming — Ann & Nancy Wilson
01-08-22 – “D” Is for Deadbeat — Sue Grafton
01-09-22 – Termination Shock — Neal Stephenson
01-10-22 – There’s No Such Thing As an Easy Job — Kikuko Tsumura
01-11-22 – Girlhood — Melissa Febos
01-12-22 – The Confidence Men : How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History — Margalit Fox
01-13-22 – Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton — Richard S. Westfall
01-14-22 – The Twilight Zone — Nona Fernández
01-15-22 – Animal Factory: A Novel — Edward Bunker
01-16-22 – When We Cease to Understand the World — Benjamin Labatut
01-17-22 – Rules of Civility — Amor Towles
01-18-22 – Philip Roth: The Biography — Blake Bailey
01-19-22 – Never Saw Me Coming — Vera Kurian
01-20-22 – The Lost Apothecary — Sarah Penner
01-21-22 – What Evolution Is — Ernst Mayr
01-22-22 – The Five Wounds — Kirstin Valdez Quade
01-23-22 – Open Water — Caleb Azumah Nelson
01-24-22 – Nine Nasty Words — John McWhorter
01-25-22 – The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 — Rachel Kushner
01-26-22 – My Phantoms — Gwendoline Riley
01-27-22 – The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book — Timothy Beal
01-28-22 – Hot Stew — Fiona Mozley
01-29-22 – The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu — Tom Lin
01-30-22 – Something Unbelievable— Maria Kuznetsova
01-31-22 – The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity — David Graeber and David Wengrow
And in recognition of Fahrenheit 451, a little ditty that some may insist be banned; but remember, censoring digital media is the new book burning.
4 thoughts on “Remembering Guy Montag”
This tendency to ban anything that “offends” anyone anywhere is z destructive, ignorant mindset. It offends me, and us just another means of control and censorship. If you don’t like a book, don’t read it.
The “Land of the Free” seems intent on losing free speech. This tendency is here in the UK too, but we haven’t got to book burning yet, but we will slavishly follow the US, so it inevitably will.
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You must have seen the images from the USA: We have definitely started book-burning!
But I have a secret to whisper to you: Free Speech is a myth. Freedom, in any form, is relative and only extends as far as the ruling class allows. Traditionally, abrogation of freedoms has been subtle and often disguised; nowadays it’s fully exposed and even considered fashionable.
Freedom is no match for greed and self-aggrandizement.
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“The Dawn of Everything” is biased disingenuous account of human history (www.persuasion.community/p/a-flawed-history-of-humanity ) that spreads fake hope (the authors of “The Dawn” claim human history has not “progressed” in stages, or linearly, and must not end in inequality and hierarchy as with our current system… so there’s hope for us now that it could get different/better again). As a result of this fake hope porn it has been widely praised. It conveniently serves the profoundly sick industrialized world of fakes and criminals. The book’s dishonest fake grandiose title shows already that this work is a FOR-PROFIT, instead a FOR-TRUTH, endeavor geared at the (ignorant gullible) masses.
Fact is human history has “progressed” by and large in linear stages, especially since the dawn of agriculture (www.focaalblog.com/2021/12/22/chris-knight-wrong-about-almost-everything ). This “progress” has been fundamentally destructive and is driven and dominated by “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room” (www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html ) which the fake hope-giving authors of “The Dawn” entirely ignore naturally (no one can write a legitimate human history without understanding the nature of humans). And these two married pink elephants are the reason why we’ve been “stuck” in a destructive hierarchy and unequal class system (the “stuck” question is the major question in “The Dawn” its authors never answer, predictably), and will be far into the foreseeable future.
A good example that one of the authors, Graeber, has no real idea what world we’ve been living in and about the nature of humans is his last brief article on Covid where his ignorance shines bright already at the title of his article, “After the Pandemic, We Can’t Go Back to Sleep.” Apparently he doesn’t know that most people WANT to be asleep, and that they’ve been wanting that for thousands of years (and that’s not the only ignorant notion in the title). Yet he (and his partner) is the sort of person who thinks he can teach you something authentically truthful about human history and whom you should be trusting along those terms. Ridiculous!
“The Dawn” is just another fantasy, or ideology, cloaked in a hue of cherry-picked “science,” served lucratively to the gullible ignorant underclasses who crave myths and fairy tales.
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It still burns at Fahrenheit 451 if you’re so inclined.
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