Burning Books

Carl Spitzweg, 1850

The most readily observable consequence
of technological “advancement” in modern society,
has been the almost complete eradication
of the ability to read with attention;
write cursively, and converse articulately

in those who have enthusiastically
sacrificed their minds
for the acquisition of technological toys.

And as human beings increasingly
regard reading as “too much work”,

corporations have done all that they can
to ‘buy up’ “ownership”
of what is now outrageously regarded as
… “intellectual ‘property”.

Through the tyranny of obscene Greed
known as “Copyright Infringement”,
what used to be freely shared
now demands a fee.

Books, for example – along with handwriting –
are evidently the last vestige of mental effort
to be happily discarded
by modern-minded multitudes.

Take, for instance, one technological concept:

“Kindle Books” –

flat-screen devices that ‘store’ books
for people to read.

Now … inventors can certainly claim
whatever reason they wish
when inventing a name for a product,

but I still cannot help but believe that – surely,
the name has to be — ( it HAS to be !!! )

— an ‘inside joke’ .

To “kindle” means … to set on fire.

Kindle Books –
to … ‘Set On Fire’ … books.

It is not that books need anymore
to be physically burned: merely
that they be viewed by the epicurean hordes
as ‘not worth the effort’ … “old fashioned” …
or ‘unnecessary’.

Channelled through corporate machines,
the opportunities for profits – and control –
are self evident.

And modern multitudes positively thrill
to have yet another opportunity
to rely solely upon a machine in their
constant pursuit of laziness.

The overstuffed armchair,
the fire in the hearth, the lone reading lamp
which lights the pages … these
are my associations with a book.

There is something decidedly ‘tangible’
– real – about a book held in the hand.

And with no further desire for books,
and having thrown away the means of developing
fine motor skills and creative identity
with the elimination of cursive writing
from schools,

humanity has descended into wilful alliterates
that punctuate grunting monosyllables
with filthy obscenities.

And modern multitudes want it that way.

If I could say one thing to any conscientious child
still remaining on this earth, it would be …


read books that are grammatically challenging.

And Write … write cursively.

Do Not become – like the masses around you,
a human machine that “inputs” fed information
into a mere receptacle … that regurgitates
whatever it has been fed.

Have the Humility to Learn.
And the Diligence to make the effort.

I remember a time when human beings
could actually carry on a conversation;
exercise good manners and common courtesy;
and actually Think – without needing to “look it up”.

I may be the last man on earth to cherish
the suppleness,
feel, and smell of a book;

the spatial experience –

the involvement of holding worded pages in my hands;

the instantaneous ability to scan ahead –

the all-encompassing mental retention,
of reading ink on paper …

the ability to remember what I have read,
because I can still see it positioned on a page …

… but, if it is at all possible to encourage
one boy or girl to take an interest in quality books
– and buy them (while they are still available),

I hope that – in having presented this brief
consideration of books on this Internet site –
I will succeed in piquing the interest
of one or two children, or their parents.

Having watched, for 50 years, as technology
has turned the human brain to mush,
I espouse the reading of quality books
as the greatest legacy that any teacher,
or parent, can leave a child.

In my life, there has been nothing
– absolutely nothing –
that beats the pure contentment,
of the rain hammering against the window-pane
and the “warmth” of a good book,
while tucked up in bed, on a cold winter’s night.

I hope that there may still be time left
for children to discover those same joys
for themselves.

P Livingstone

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