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Palomar Observatory

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ex Libris

© Michael Parkes
I decided to take a break from the shop this morning with the thought of visiting some old friends.

 I walked up the steep hill to the modern building and went looking for Inspector Maigret. Simenon's wizened detective was nowhere to be found in the sparkling new library.

I thought,well perhaps I can pay a visit to Archie and Nero but alas, the shelves were also barren and devoid of anything resembling Stout. The story was the same for Lord Dunsany and William Morris, as well as a host of other scribes who had written books that had once brought such infinite pleasure to my soul.

I have made many good friends of these authors, or at least their biblio progeny by proxy. I can pick up a book that I read and loved as a youth and now find an entirely different story in its place. Some that I thought wise and powerful are now simply unintelligible. Others surrender their gifts and secrets only now in my dotage as I finally have the life experience to allow me to understand them.

But certainly with every year more and more of my favorites seem to disappear from the shelves. The books that take their place are pale imitations of the literary treasure chests that have bestowed their many gifts on me in the past. The pleasure of the printed page has largely given way to the warm hum of the electronic instrument. We have undergone a general coarsening of culture, from Springer to the Kardashians and reality television. The elegant and eloquent language of the classics is largely lost on our base modern world.

This year will mark my twentieth year without television. Without this electronic tether to popular culture, I further remove myself from the pulse and codex of the present age. Like Rip Van Winkle awakening after a long sleep I find myself shocked and amazed at the crude imprimatur of our current time and the dearth of informed colloquy in our conversation.

My friend was looking for a book the other day. "Read one of the giants," I exhorted him. "Twain, Dumas, Stevenson, Homer." I am afraid that if things keep going the way they they are going and we lose them, their voices and souls might be forever trapped inside their cloth bound boards and tough leather bindings for eternity.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book, I'm getting into it albeit slowly.
" Outside of a book a dog is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it is too dark to read."
Happy New Years compadre lets throw a disc and have a catch this year.
Deli Guy****

Blue Heron said...

Thank you man, I would love to. Best to you and Linda. Give the book time, it is a treasure, you will see.