I read almost all my junk reading on a Kindle. But I have the good stuff in print: I don’t have the temple on my Kindle or Donne: I have hardback versions of them. I try go get them from local bookshops, and on Saturday (having book tokens unspent: a sad event) I went into a local bookshop and left empty handed.
There was nothing eternal on the bookshop. Everything was ephemeral.
Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper
Bathes in the blare of the brightly jacketed Hitler’s War Machine,
His unmistakably individual new voice
Shares the same scrapyart with a forlorn skyscraper
Of The Kung-Fu Cookbook,
His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed by others,
His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretense,
Is there with Pertwee’s Promenades and Pierrots–
One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment,
And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,
His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,
His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as one
With Barbara Windsor’s Book of Boobs,
A volume graced by the descriptive rubric
“My boobs will give everyone hours of fun”.
Clive James. The book of my enemy has been remaindered
The associations James noticed — such as Barbara Windsor — have dated and will be discussed by scholars in the next century. But James is Australian, European, male and dead and thus his work must be denied and destroyed.
What they cannot destroy they will retcon. Having scholarly versions of good works in print is important. Use your bookshelves for this.
The odd thing, about this morning’s intemperate effusion, is that I meant to write an Idlepost defending printed books. It was only because I was looking something up on the Internet that I tripped into this recent egregious scandal, in what we might call the swamp life of the mind.
For a new generation of reactionaries, old printed books can provide a way to preserve the culture and knowledge now being systematically “re-curated” (i.e. censored and physically destroyed) everywhere I look.
But of course I meant small private libraries, that will have to be hidden from public view, and guarded against electronic penetration; not the extravagant starchitectural wonders that pass for “highbrow” among people who never formed the habit of reading.
Too, as in Aldous Huxley, and the age of Homer, we should be memorizing our most treasured works for the dark age to come. Intelligent schooling, even rote learning must, like the Catholic Church, survive underground. It is a task from which much good might emerge. Or at the least, it will give us something to do, while we await the Apocalypse.
My project with the poetry is to blog the good stuff. Herbert is good. In part, because he gave up the ephemeral for the eternal.
AH my deare angrie Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.
I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sowre-sweet dayes
I will lament, and love.
George Herbert, The Temple, 1633.