Literacy of Society

A few weeks ago we discussed Google’s plan to digitally scan large portions of some of the most prestigious library inventories in order to make those texts searchable and available online. This does seem to increase access to some important literary works and information, but the limiting factor would still be online access itself. While it seems like everyone is online these days, there are still a lot of people who don’t have internet access and many who do often rely on computers in public libraries, schools or community centers.

Around the same time Google made its announcement, the town of Salinas, California — birthplace of John Steinbeck — announced that its three libraries are forced to close due to budget cuts and a slow local economy. Since this news was first reported, there have been many editorials and commentaries around the world noting the irony and expressing outrage at this decision to shutter libraries in a town that gave us a literary giant like Steinbeck. It would be easy to join in and judge the political process and budget decisions that resulted in this blow to the community. It might be easy to blame the voters and citizens of Salinas as well, but unfortunately this is a trend in many smaller towns and communities. Many libraries and public organizations have had to reduce their hours and cut the amount of services they offer to survive at all. To focus on the problem in Salinas alone would be ignoring a larger issue.

What importance do we place on literature, literacy and information in our society? Both locally and as a whole — we talk the talk, but are we walking the walk? As members of LitKicks, we obviously give a great measure of importance to this part of life, however many of us have probably been very fortunate to have access to education, mentors and friends who have passed along a love for reading and knowledge — not to mention access to the vast amounts of information now available online. In promoting literacy and knowledge, where does the responsibility lie? Solely with governmental and public organizations? Private initiatives and charities? Individual contributions and volunteers? What do you think about these issues? What is the situation in your local community — are there resources available for everyone? Do you use the libraries and resources in your town? Do you support them?

I think we all hold a stake in the literacy of society — not only for ourselves and our children, but for better communities and environments where we live. It could be seen as just a small thing, yet such a small thing can have big consequences.

28 Responses

  1. LibrariesThe problem with

    The problem with Google’s plan is that it removes the person from the library as a cultural center and is likely to actually promote closing of physical libraries in favor of much cheaper and easier-to-operate database and server setups, to feed the online tool.

    When I think about the importance of literature, I see my youngest son, barely 18 months, sitting on the floor with a book. Holding it wide open, he touches the pages and giggles or stares and ponders at what he sees. This organic facination with literature makes me appreciate even more what is possible through books.

    Of all the methods of communication that we’ve developed, the most permanent and nearly oldest is words on a page. The destruction of the library culture not only threatens to disintegrate that form of communication entirely, but, more likely, promotes elitism within the form. Libraries are 100% free access to what could be described as the most enduring and powerful means of communication created by man. Even without my hyperbole, the closure of libraries reflects a tendency to favor the rich, the privileged.

    Somewhat fortunately, we still have rich and privileged people who take a stand and generously support libraries, like Bill Gates, and many before him. The danger is that, as libraries are phased out, more and more potential donors will grow up without them, and will then be less likely to include libraries in their charities.

    I forgot what the question was, because I cant see it as I’m typing (boo!), but I think it had something to do with how do we value literature. I value it very highly and will of course do everything in my power as a parent to promote it for my children. And I will do everything in my power to promote it as a writer. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of power, for my children are but two and my riches are on a ship somewhere, not really coming in. I hope it’s not a futile battle, but I’d keep fighting it even if it was. were. something. heh.

  2. Great comments, Firsty — I
    Great comments, Firsty — I am glad you pointed out the financial differences in operating a physical library and an online server. I can imagine the latter would be a small fraction of the cost of a traditional library and wouldn’t require a large staff. Aside from access to books and other reading materials, most libraries also offer job seeking services/information, computer access and places for groups to meet — so the cultural/community connection is integral in many ways. Having information online is great — obviously I think so since I do a great deal of my work online — but I agree that it may make funding and supporting libraries less appealing to some.

  3. Can I Just Ramble?I use the
    Can I Just Ramble?

    I use the public library all the time. As much as I like to read, much money is saved by checking out books for free, even though I did end up owing $4.00 in late fees for Ulysses. Still, four bucks isn’t too bad considering I lost five bucks to Jason Evans, who bet I wouldn’t finish the thing. That’s another subject for another time. Don’t any of you highbrows judge me.

    Far from closing libraries, Jacksonville, FL recently opened a brand new branch near my house –giving us a total of 22 branches. I love it! Even if they don’t have the book I want, they can order it most of the time. I don’t mind waiting 7 to 10 days to read a book for free. I would absolutely hate having no libraries. The small town I grew up in only had one library. For that matter, we only had one movie theater and one high school. It’s sad that the quaint little towns apparently don’t have enough people to make a library financially feasible. I’ve lived in Jacksonville almost thirty years, and it’s kind of ironic that when I go back to visit my small hometown, I see more video rental stores, fast food restaurants, and cell phone outlets than libraries. There is still only one library and sure enough, there has been talk about closing it down.

    “What’s Mr. Potter done to my town, Clarence?” Jimmy Stewart’s voice chimes with panic. “W…w…why, don’t you remember, Mary? I lassoed the moon for ya at that library!”

    “Library?!” barks a cop. “That Cash-A-Check hasn’t been a library in thirty years! Saayyyyy, what’s the big idea…?”

    My mother taught me to read and write and to synthesize new thoughts and concepts from a variety of other people’s writing. I mean, I also learned to read & write in school, but Mom gave me a head start and a lot of supplemental training. She still doesn’t have a computer or even a clothes dryer. She finally got her first answering machine last month. It’s not that she can’t afford these other items; she says she likes reading books or watching TV while the clothes dry and something about lifting your arms up to the clothesline being good for your heart or circulation. The point is, she buys some of the books she reads, but a lot of them come from the library. She hopes they don’t close the library.

  4. Thanks for sharing your local
    Thanks for sharing your local perspective, Bill. It sounds like you’re a loyal library patron — do you use any of the other services of the library? Keep me posted on what happens in your hometown and for your mom’s sake, I hope they don’t close the library there either. Sounds like she gets a lot of enjoyment from it and has passed that along to you.

  5. I like what you are saying
    I like what you are saying here, especially the idea of the organic facination with literature. A book is more than words on paper. It’s like a little magic box you can open up and go inside. You can carry it with you, arrange it on a shelf, or hide it.
    I also agree that there is a potential for literature to fall into the hands of the elite. But here’s how we handle that problem:

    The elite will always want to make more money, right? So we have to show them that books sell, and the sellers are always looking for wider markets, so they will sell to the “lowly masses” so to speak, just as, even during the depression, people would plop down a coin to see a movie or read a pulp story — now the trick is, we gotta supply what the elite believe to be generic product, while covertly writing about them in symbolism & allegory, like Lewis Carroll, George Orwell and all those other subversives.

  6. Rather Awesome!I was 8 when I
    Rather Awesome!

    I was 8 when I visited my first public library during story hour on a Saturday. I couldn’t get over all those books lining the shelves and the realization that I could take them home with me and read them. I immediately began seeing how many of them I could read.

    I have lived many places since then, but am now back in that small community and the same building still houses our local library. The books are still free and I can still take them home with me and read them. How cool is that? I think it’s rather awesome. They have added on to the library since I was a girl and it has now more than doubled in size. Like many other small communities they have had budgetary concerns and have had to adjust their shcedule to compensate for less money. It is funded by many sources, tax dollars, and fees.

    It is still one of the most awesome places in the world to me. It is cool to think that some literary works could be accessed over the internet. Especially for people who do not have the advantage of a real honest to goodness library to use. But everyone should be able to visit the local lending room, go into a sound booth, plug in the earphones and listen to classic jazz, research a topic, sample a book for a few minutes to see if it is a good fit before finally adopting it for a couple weeks and taking it home. Then there are all those magazines that you would never subscribe to sitting on shelves and daily newspapers. Our library even checks out genuine art which I can take home and hang on my walls for 2 months then bring back and redecorate my house with another painting.

    Libraries are valid connections to literature but they offer so much more, from lecture series, to movies, to just opportunities to meet, learn and grow. They should always be. It is sad to thnk that some day they will become just a memory in some kid’s grandmother’s tale about a visit when she was 8 to the library where she could take home all the books she wanted and read them again and again if she wanted.

  7. Me and Literacy: A Love
    Me and Literacy: A Love Story

    I’ve always loved my local library. I loved story time when I as a kid. The miles of microfilm in the local history room waiting to be researched (because oh, do I love research). Working there in my late teens, and pretending to shelve books while really just sitting in the back reading. Everything about the library meant adventure to me, because really, living in a small Midwestern town means that there’s not that much adventure to be had outside of the imagination.

    And this is the grossest cliche ever, but here it is — the library was that portal for me. Kind of like a gateway drug, getting me hooked on all those words and thoughts and ideas.

    And I love the internet, don’t get me wrong. There are things that a dynamic medium such as this allow for that a static medium (words printed on a page) don’t… but the reverse is true as well. I mean, yes, I know that technically with wireless internet, you actually can carry the web with you wherever you go, but a notebook is never going to compare with the tactile pleasure of reading a book, of curling up with one, of feeling its pages, of smelling that ink and paper and dust smell that all books seem to have.

    (I don’t know. I mean, I download digital music, but I still like to buy CDs.)

    So I’ve digressed a bit.

    To answer your questions, I think that we are still a literate society, but I think the nature of our literacy is changing. People read all day long (e-mail, news, blogs, whatever) but may never sit down with a book. It is what it is. As I said earlier in this ramble, I like books, but I can go months without ever opening one (sacrilege, I know). Even so, I’ve probably read hundreds of thousands more words in these past few years that I’ve been using the internet than I did in the years leading up to them. It’s the nature of the information and the speed at which it moves. (Plus this medium is much better suited to my nonexistent attention span.)

    Of course, there’s the whole issue of the digital divide (is this something people talk about, or is it only something I hear in boring conferences?) and making sure that as information increasingly moves from print to the online medium, access to that information becomes more and more available to the people who need it.

    What am I saying? I really don’t know. But I think that literacy is an issue that should belong to everybody, because it’s something that affects everybody. Being able to read (and having access to reading material) is, to my thinking, an intrinsic right. A basic need. Maybe not quite as basic as food, water and shelter, but right up there. So we should all be responsible for preserving it, in any way we can.

    And libraries are cool. And this makes no sense.

  8. Local LibrariesOne of the
    Local Libraries

    One of the first problems that comes to my mind when contemplating the creation of online libraries and the eradication of physical ones is that there would no longer be a physical book. If I’m going to read, I want to be able to do it wherever I want to (an online library would make this impossible because of my complete lack of a laptop). I don’t savor the idea of staring at a computer screen in order to read a novel; I sure as hell can’t afford the extra paper and ink to print it off.

    In regards to the local libraries where I live (outside of Detroit), there are two local public libraries, which are part of the “Suburban Library Cooperation”. That, in a nutshell, means we can steal books from any library in this so-called “Suburban Library Cooperation”. And there are a lot of them. The second library was just built about two years ago, and the older one is now a Reference Library (but still contains fictional works).

  9. LibrariesDamn good argument,

    Damn good argument, I think. This subject is also an obsession of one of my favorite writers, Nicholson Baker, who has been going around the country passionately arguing for the preservation of physical literature.

    Libraries were very central to my education as a kid. I rode my bike to Commack Public Library where I would basically spend the day, four to six hours at least, with a midday break at the nearby Taco Bell. I remember I spent a lot of time in the K aisle, where many of my favorite novelists happened to be (Ken Kesey, James Kirkwood, Daniel Keyes, Franz Kafka … strangely I never looked up Kerouac in all those hours).

    Nowadays, I’m sorry to say my kids don’t get the same benefit, because the Queens public library system is very under-funded. We are part of NY City but the New York Public Library covers Manhattan only (Manhattan is New York County) and each borough has its own system. The Rego Park branch is about the size of a gas station, and if you’re lucky you’ll find a book you want there. The kids section is an aisle and a half. I’m with Caryn and Nicholson Baker … more funding for libraries, and let’s tax the rich for it too, because I know they have good libraries in their towns.

  10. Indians/Aboriginals Didn’t
    Indians/Aboriginals Didn’t Read

    I think of the time I’ve spent reading, and yeah, some of it I enjoyed, losing myself in a good way. Yet other times I find myself reaching for a book, magazine or newspaper when it feels like I want to shut the world out.

    I think of the Native Americans, Aboriginals, maybe the Eskimos, the ones who didn’t read text, but ‘read’ each other and nature, which are the same thing really.
    Maybe they live(d) a simpler way, without so much of the stress we have today. No time pieces, no ‘TO DO’ lists. No tvs, or game boys or computers. Way more physical of a life rather than a mental one.

    I’m finding I yearn for less mental noise. I pick up a book when I’m on the exercise bike at the Y, but I’m not reaching for books other than that these days. I used to have a list of stuff I wanted to read. But except for the book I’m reading now, nothing else really calls to me. Movies too I am finding less desireable, I used to want to see most of them. Now, it’s rare there’s anything out I want to see. What’s changed? I want to live closer to the Earth. I want a quiet mind.

    ‘Better communities and environments’?

    Guess it all depends on what you want, that defines what’s ‘better.’

    Reading seems like mostly a solitary past time. How does that encourage community?

    I am in some type of a major life shift. I’m not sure of anything anymore. It’s frightening at times, incredibly liberating at others.

    Heh, I talk about how words are words are losing their meaning, and yet I write on and on and on…

  11. Need or Want?1. American
    Need or Want?

    1. American rural areas are without hospitals so if they don’t have medical care, it’d be hard for them to have libraries or bookmobiles.

    2. Your correspondent’s internet is down so he was forced to use the nearest internet cafe for email and research, where he encountered a student who asked, “What will you play?”, as if the internet was just for games.

    Your correspondent used to have dreams of internet kiosks as readily available as liquor stores or 7-11s with everyone getting educated and always getting involved but most likely they’d just get used for point and shoot games or whatever favorite flavor gamers prefer. Pornography’s outlawed–sex is bad but pretend killing’s OK.

    3. Carnegie libraries still form the nucleus of the New York Public Library system in New York City, with 31 of the original 39 buildings still in operation so without that kind of cash from the private sector libraries will continue to close.

    In Seoul, your correspondent patronizes a used-book store so possibly this is an alternative to the libraries.

    4. The internet is good for research but with articles posted on google on a most frequently used basis, it could become a source of misinformation and disinformation rather than accuracy. The same danger was in the old print media but with instant postings, the danger is amplified. Also for many, the internet has the mystic air of authority as if humans were less infallible online.

    5. The reader still should try to grow so one can enjoy the fine language and imagery of Winesburg, Ohio or the real-life depictions of Catch-22. Whether a library could help remains questionable but it sure couldn’t hurt.

  12. You’re right, Jamelah,
    You’re right, Jamelah, libraries are cool.

    I like what you said about both sides of the picture: The internet has certain advantages over books, but the reverse is also true.

    The more I think about it, it’s not really the internet that threatens to take away literacy; it’s the lack of interest being passed on to the younger generation. For those of us who love to read, we’ll find something to read. Am I the only one who reads cereal boxes or the contents of shampoo when there is nothing else available?

    Think of the gleeful subversiveness we experience: Reading while you are supposed to be shelving books, creating a website when you are supposed to be working on Power Point presentations (Mr. Asher), reading under the bed covers with a flashlight when you are supposed to be sleeping, checking out the notes on lined paper which kids accidentally drop at the bus stop on the corner of my lawn, or reading the Bible where it is either banned or when it was only supposed to be written in Latin.

  13. If the Rego Park library
    If the Rego Park library doesn’t have the book you want, can they get it for you? The library branch near my house can order almost any book. Sometimes they get it from another library, other times they actually order it from the publisher and it becomes a new addition to their collection. They notify me when the book arrives.

  14. I’ve thought about that, too,
    I’ve thought about that, too, the idea that the truly simple and/or Buddhist life might be to never read at all. Just plant a garden, work in the garden, eat, sleep, and make love, and have no need for words. Maybe that’s what the really enlightened people do, and those of us who write about it aren’t so enlightened after all. But I love to write. Like you, I know I’m going to keep doing it.

    I’m not overly religious but I like to read the Bible sometimes, and I found an interesting paradox. The book of Ecclesiastes, which is probably the most “down to Earth” book of the Old Testament, says, “of making many books there is no end, and much study is weariness to the flesh” (a good argument for partying in college). But in the book of John in the New Testament, Jesus tells his disciples to “study the scriptures” (among those scriptures he refers to is Ecclesiastes).

    So, who knows?

  15. Libraries and Music SchoolsA
    Libraries and Music Schools

    A few years ago, the German Minister (or is that ‘secretary’ in American English?) of the Interior said in a speech that “he who closes music schools endangers inner security”.

    I think this is likewise true for libraries.

  16. Well, I know you’re an avid
    Well, I know you’re an avid library user, even though the Rego Park branch may not be the cornucopia that you’d prefer. I think whether or not you use the library regularly you can still support it and pass along its resources to others, just as you’ve introduced the concept of public literature and information to your kids. I think that’s kind of what I’m getting at here — with no support for libraries, literacy programs and public access, it makes that process of encouragement and assistance a little harder or in some cases, nearly impossible.

    To clarify, my intent as far as the support and funding of libraries was not to necessarily kneejerk to the “tax the rich” or wealthy benefactor, but to suggest that since we all (presumably) have a stake in public libraries and the programs/benefits they offer, we each have an individual responsibility to ensure they continue.

    Oh and to clarify one more point, I’m not actually married to Nicholson Baker.

  17. Well, first of all, Caryn,
    Well, first of all, Caryn, I’m glad to hear that about Nicholson Baker. And, yes, I know that “tax the rich for libraries” was a sort of hasty or frustrated response on my part, rather than a well-thought one. What I seriously mean is, it’s sad that library funds apparently come from town or county rather than state or federal taxes, because I’ve seen the difference between a really gorgeous, lushly appointed, enthusiastically staffed town library, a public oasis of leisure and activity, and the sad spectacle of an underfunded library that may exist only a few miles across a town or county border. It’s a huge difference, based entirely on the wealth of the town, and it just doesn’t seem fair, since we all pay state and federal taxes.

    But, yeah, funding is only one part of the equation, and even a tiny library with ratty old books can be a great place for somebody who knows how to dig into what’s there. Bill, to answer your question, I will typically just take my kids to B&N or Borders and buy them a paperback rather than order it from a different library — but, yeah, if I asked, they would do it.

  18. I think some of the earliest
    I think some of the earliest cave art was that of the American Indian. The need to preserve the story of a battle or successful hunt seems to have been a need early on in man’s history. Before alphabitized language there existed the “picture” languages from long ago.

    Early oral tradition, though not writen down, was so perfectly passed form one generation to another that this also indicates the need to preserve history and important stories.

    Although we all go through phases and a need for quiet and getting back to the earth is an important phase, it is good that we have the written preservation of our predecessors to direct us in the way to connect with and learn from those early historians who struggled with and conquered “earth” in its rawest form.

    There is the image of the holy men of old in their orange attire carefully bent over old texts, learning … learning. We cannot progress into the future until we can absorb what we can from the past. If we do not build on what exists … is already written, the progression of civilization will come to a grinding halt, as we continue to repeatedly redo what the last generation did without learning from them.

    It is a good thng to be quiet, it is good to get back to nature, it is better in our quiet to have something to contemplate besides one’s navel or inner struggles.

  19. The first I read Catch-22
    The first I read Catch-22 (one of my favourite novels), it was from a library.
    Same with On The Road.
    And a book of poetry by Allen Ginsberg.

  20. Importance of Supporting
    Importance of Supporting Libraries

    The Clarksville, TN Public Library was the first library I remember visiting with my mother and one of my brothers. Mother quietly read one of the big cardboard preschool books to my brother and me over in the children’s study section. Then she checked out several other children’s preschool books to take back to Ft. Campbell with us.

    After my Dad got back from Korea, we moved to Flushing Meadows, NY, which is now a part of Queens. We lived near La Guardia Airport near a large park in one of those “U-shaped” brownstone apartments with a large courtyard in the middle. (I’ve forgotten the address. It’s been many years ago.) While we were living in Flushing, and waiting to join my Dad in Europe, we made many trips by train and subway to the huge New York City Public Library where I continued to learn my abc’s when I was still a “preschooler”. I remember admiring the huge lion statues outside and was impressed by the library staffers who were so polite to Mother who was unfamiliar with the children’s section. Of course, there’s no way I could verbalize it at the time. However, I learned to read traffic signs and street signs from my library experience. I also learned how to generally look at maps and find out where I was with help from Mother, et al, in the library. I was into circus and zoo animals at the time. I understood more than I read at the time.

    Consequently, Mother checked out books about animals and I found out about dinosaurs from THE EARTH FOR SAM. Later on, my Great Uncle, who was a civil engineer/geologist for NYC got me a present of the above book for Christmas. My Mother, Great Uncle and Great Aunt took turns reading to us kids. They took us to the library, to museums and zoos, etc. My Great Aunt and Great Uncle lived nearby. They had a brownstone in Bedford-“Sty” in Brooklyn, and also a rambling old house in Westport, CT. My Great Aunt taught at Brooklyn College. They were avid book collectors and supported the public libaries.

    I’ve spent plenty of time in public libraries, public school libraries, and university libraries through the years and have been a “friend of the library” in many different places-including the library, in Clarksville, TN, where I first started getting acquainted with books. I first learned to “blog on the internet” for information from a library staffer at our current local public library, in Chattanooga, TN.

    My folks, now deceased, retired in a small town in North Carolina which had a county public library and a private membership library. So, if you have a good tax base and fund libraries, you will get a good investment for what your taxes pay for. Adults, children and teens will have a place to check out books, examine microfilm, blog the internet, or visit the “non-print section” and check out videos, tapes, or CDs. Every library should have a children’s section and small study rooms where children can hear stories read to them, if they can’t read and so on.

    Another personal example, my Dad checked out King Arthur and Robin Hood out of the library and read to us kids long before he purchased the books and continued the readings. By the time I was twelve, we had heard both stories and I started reading them them again on my own… Onward to ways I think libraries may continue to be funded.

    Libraries may be funded by a combination of sources: taxes, charities, used book sales, and interested internet “book worms/hounds” who think that all knowledge should be available to be shared in print or “out of print”. If you are a “book hound” or a “book worm” you know what I mean.

    Sometimes, we just can’t afford to buy every book we like, so we have to have go “on-line” and/or check it out of the library. Many great writers, lyricists, and poets got their start in the library. So, let’s not give excuses. Let’s make sure every county at least, has a public library.

    Moreover, let’s not forget our school, college and university libraries either. Knowledge and literature is something to be shared by all. Everyone must have access to the library. Not everyone can afford to have a computer at home. Libraries provide computers to card holders.

    Lastly, there is no real substitute for reading a printed book in one’s hands. From avid readers, come great writings. For the above and many other reasons, libraries are important to society.

  21. Ah, the lion statues. I heard
    Ah, the lion statues. I heard on NPR that they recently refurbished them. At least, I believe it was the same two you speak of.

    Nice recollections. I can relate and I agree.

  22. Salinas, CAThe peppery smell
    Salinas, CA

    The peppery smell of goat shit
    coating the valley after the
    strawberry harvest, migrant
    farmers no se habla john steinbeck
    though they also pick the grapes
    up north; driving through the
    muddy darkness of the fields
    at midnight with a pretty young
    woman whose mother teaches
    pre-school and always those
    “Proposition B.S. Catch-22”
    people trying to get her to
    turn-in the little kids without papers; because little Maria’s
    mommy and daddy are only good
    enough to sweat over America’s
    salad, but in no way do they
    deserve any of the benefits of
    Democracy; I’m not sure what ol’
    Johnny Stein. would’ve said about
    this, but my gut-feeling’s that he
    would’ve written a book or two,
    and Hollywood would’ve bought the
    rights and America would’ve bought
    the popcorn, sat on its ever ballooning backside and done
    nothing at all substantial to
    improve the lives of the people
    it lives by; and I suppose
    I shouldn’t let any of this
    rile me, because after all
    demographics triumph in the end
    and someday thank-god we’ll all
    be speaking Spanish.

    As for closing of the library–
    I suppose people will still be able to drive thirty minutes into Monterey, and you walk-in and there’s a bunch of old-timers/
    pan-handlers asleep in the afternoon and sometimes they shout at each other about God knows what the CIA maybe, but really it’s a decent library it’s no Alexandria but it will do the trick for you me or anybody; assuming they don’t shut that down also, of course.

  23. Were you reading Litkicks
    Were you reading Litkicks awhile back when I posted something about no one owns what they write? It created quite a bit of strong dissent from some people. Funny, I had some fear about posting my thoughts on it, but inside it felt so right to. I wasn’t prepared for the response, but looking back on it, it’s all ‘good.’

    I want my fears to arise, so I can dance with/overcome them.

    I tell ya all this, you mentioned something out of the bible that relates to reading and writing. I too came across something recently, and it resonates in and confirms some truth in me that I yearn to live by.

    Acts 4:32: All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his posessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

    Gandhi said we must be the changes we wish to see in the world. I want to live in a world where we don’t feel the need to cling to anything. ‘Love’ doesn’t need or want. When I think/feel I need or want something, I’m not happy, not at peace.

    And I want more than anything –

    The peace that surpasses all understanding.

  24. I hear ya, and at times think
    I hear ya, and at times think the same way. But the more I meditate, and the deeper I seem to go in those meditations, til the ‘I’ seems to disappear, the deeper peace I experience.

    You wrote about learning from the past to affect our future. There’s a book out called The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. I have realized that all my dis-ease comes from being in thoughts of past and future. And yet here am I, responding to your post I read a few moments ago. So what the hell do I mean?

    In ‘A Course in Miracles’ it is written, ‘I know I must be thinking incorrectly, because I’m not at peace.’ It seems like, somehow there is a way to be totally in the present moment that can still influence or bring peace to the past and future.

    I read this, and don’t really know what I’m saying. But something ‘knows.’ Maybe all ‘I’ know is wrong, but something ‘knows’ truth.

    You ended your post talking about ‘quiet contemplation.’ Isn’t that a bit of an irony? For if the mind be quiet, what is there to contemplate?

    Ha, perhaps all of life is ironic.

  25. Helpin’ Your CommunityI
    Helpin’ Your Community

    I remember the First Lady, a former librarian, telling us how important it will be to support literacy and book readin’, so it’s surprising that anywhere in the U.S. has trouble with funds to keep libraries open.

    But maybe this stuff is just happening on a local level and if the locals aren’t supporting their libraries, then there you go. I don’t find the Internet a sole source of reading. A lot of times, I will go to the library to get a live book to sit down and read, or find something you can’t get online. Most times you can’t read a book online, you have to buy one. Sure, my library locally is small, but it has unusual surprising choices. And some indie bookstores are scattered here and there, you won’t certainly find what you wanted, but you might find something else. Otherwise I’d have to go to the university libraries or in the bigger city.

    But anyhow, people may say they like to read, and they are interested in books and the community, but they need to stand behind it. To vote for funds for libraries. Support your indie bookstore. Help out book-mobiles if your town has one, and if they don’t, suggest it. Support events like poetry readings and literary festivals, or suggest them.
    I survived without the Internet for many a year. We can’t forget the libraries and public literary events and centers even as Technology rises over our heads. And there’s few things I’d travel far for-and one’s a good book.

  26. I like what you said. But I
    I like what you said. But I really enjoy reading. I didn’t live during the ancient times, so I really like to read about such things. Hey, how would we know how our ancestors lived if there were not books about it. I can’t read cave drawings too greatly. But sure, there needs to be a balance. I like to be closer to Nature too. But books are so filled with passion and knowledge, and entertainment. I think our ancestors and native people of all countries may have indeed communicated differenty, through minds, or sounds, hand motions or drawings, or through spoken word. Maybe what they did equaled novels full of words and meaning. Today, I guess we have books more so. An easier, more modern way of communication. Not necessarily a bad one. The earth will always continue to change. It is the way of the world. Technology and social change may occur, and either accept it or not but either way, do not forget Nature along the way. That is the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What We're Up To ...

Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!