Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"Where they burn books..."

Was going to write something about book-burning, then remembered I already had:
"We pass through Bebelplatz, the square where the Nazis burnt 25,000 books.

The well-read Dr quotes Heine’s remark that,
“where they burn books they will also, in the end, burn people,”
and wonders whether the burning of the Satanic Verses all those years ago was the first symptom of more recent religious tensions. I start to answer that burning books is easier than burning people, but that’s not actually true.

The destruction of books is the destruction of social structure. The law is in books, as is religion and science and history. To burn a book is a refusal to empathise, to think, to engage. When you have burned down people’s ideas and opinions there is nothing left to stop you burning the people down, too.

Bebelplatz is an empty, open space amid the university, and though there are a couple of artworks about books in general, I think there should be something more lasting. They should have something like the stalls of mixed second-hand reading outside the National Film Theatre, with all kinds of well-thumbed, unsuitable ideas at tantalisingly affordable prices."

No comments: