Toasted Books

Been thinking about book burnings… which, I suppose, is exactly what that guy wanted us to do.  That, and to join his church, which I’m not going to do.  And join his crusade, which I’m not up for, either.  Or see things from his point of view.

CBC did a really short and uninformative piece on the history of book-burnings.  Left me considering a) Daniel Schwartz’ journalism abilities and b) the efficacy of book burnings.

I suppose book burnings were a reasonable activity before the invention of the printing press.  Not only did you have a fair chance of getting rid of all the copies of the books, but you could also annoy a handful of over-worked monks while you were at it.  Hell, a lot of the time you wouldn’t even have to get 200 copies of any one book, ’cause there weren’t that many made.  Yeah, book burnings must have been a lot easier in those days.  But now, it’s kind of a waste of time: symbolism is really only useful in art, not politics.  And when it comes to burning religious books, we are talking about politics instead of religion.  It’s a publicity stunt, not a means of controlling society.

So, what would happen if someone burned my books?  Well, if it involved the English curriculum stuff, you’d have a room full of happy students; the school might be a little ticked off that they have to buy more textbooks, though.  If someone decided to toast my creative writing, I’d be more concerned about the effects on the environment than the destruction of my books.  You see, the stories would – even if they got all the hard copies and erase the hard drive – still be in my head.  I could write them down again.  Like the Marquis de Sade, I would them until my dying breath, using my own bodily waste, if required.

I don’t think too many writers would rank book burnings as the Worst Thing That Can Happen.  It’s worse when the stories stop coming to mind.  Betcha all the people who torched copies of Satanic Verses didn’t bother to read Haroun and the Sea of Stories.  If you want to get rid of a book for mentioning the unmentionable, get rid of Haroun : the scariest, most damaging book I’ve ever read. *shudder*

I wonder how many writers are involved in making copies of the Qu’ran.  The religion is over 1500 years old and is world-wide, so you’d think we were looking at a number somewhere in the millions.  Could you imagine how easy it would be for them to just sit down and print out 300 new copies of the Qu’ran to replace the 200 some yahoo just burnt?  The Qu’ran is in people’s heads.  It’s a story, and it’s a story that appeals to many, many people.  It’s not going away just because you get rid of a few copies.

Besides, I bet the flood in Pakistan destroyed more copies of the Qu’ran than a little book-burning would.  I also expect people are more worried about the number of Muslims destroyed in the flood than the number of Qu’rans.

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