Sunday, June 10, 2012

Library: Bradbury-library

Today, I introduce you all, to a project that I have been working on for sometime now. It is a particular topic in my larger passion for literacy--the significance of a good Library System. My self-guided project, superly supported by my husband, focusses on the various aspect of the library system. The backbone of the entire thesis will be our joint experiences as students in India and the U.S. Throughout the work, the goal is to create a comprehensive raison d'etre for the unfortunately absent public library system in India.  


I start here with an essay that remembers someone whose larger message in life, contributes greatly to the zeal of this cause .

Author Ray Bradbury died this past week, at the age of 91. For many of my readers, like me, his name may not be a very familiar one. After all, he was most usually known as a science fiction writer, and that is a not a genre of literature that's everybody's fancy.... not mine for instance. Besides, even in that genre, he was no Issac Asimov--the most commonly known popular sci-fi author. Yet, as one can read from many of his obituaries, he was a writer of depth, and a literary figure whose collection of writings will continue to inspire long after him. 

I first came across his work, in a short creative writing class I took a while back. Parts of a chapter from his masterpiece Fahrenheit 451 were presented to us to appreciate the style of writing. Later, I got a copy of that book from the library, to read. I am very far removed from sci-fi (as I say, I prefer the real flesh-and-blood humans with all their social and moral dilemmas and the fuzzy gray areas their minds constantly live in and run from). 


Thus, I read the book half way through, and on my next trip to the library, the moment, I caught hold of another book---Glaciers (a novella by an ignominy---but a sweet and cute souffle of memories of a simple life of a thrift-shopping Portlander) I gave up on my maiden voyage through Bury-land. However, the main theme of the book Fahreheit 451 was one I have identified with for many years, and thus that book continues to be my book that is a must-read for the larger project I have undertaken .... the cause of the library. 

First about F451: In order to justly capture a review based on a complete reading of the book, I quote from amazon.com's official review of the book:
"In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires--they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury's vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal--a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.""

It comes as no surprise to me now when I read about the life of the author of a book whose scintillating title ( F451 is the temperature at which paper burns) is a message unto itself, that Bradbury loved the library system. As he was once quoted : "I never went to college, so I went to the library", he told the Associated Press – and tried to protect them from the encroachments of short-sighted budgeting and the shallowness of TV'**.

To the extent that libraries---particularly ones which house hard copies, as opposed to just soft copies of books, provide access not just to books we are seeking, but to an entire experience of soaking in written words, and wandering through the unwritten and imagined, I, audaciously perhaps, feel, that absence of libraries, particularly for the growing children, tantamounts to censure and ban on books. 

[I think I have already displayed, my constant perusal of the library.]


As I continue to create my thesis on the library, I will present here relevant thoughts and data that I am collecting and analysing, on a fortnightly basis. In the mean time, it would be enriching to hear your thoughts on this article or on this topic.

Reference: ** http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/06/ray-bradbury-fever-inspiration

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