Thursday, April 14, 2005

Lynching of Books

"And yet on the other hand unless warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image, but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye."— John Milton, Areopagitica, 1644

BBC reports on a horrible act of arson in Imphal where rioters have torched the central library, destroying 145,000 books in the process. The arsonists want the Mayek script to replace Bengali script in the state.

This is not the first time such brutality to culture has been seen in India. This speaks to our failed collective understanding of what culture is and how it's kept alive. When our Governments too get in the act of scarlet-lettering provocative books and expression, why is it surprising that cultural neanderthals among our people follow suit?

In the pell-mell of our mediocre lives, we're making tinder of our heritage and our values. When all our civillization crumbles into ash, we'll wonder why we didn't protest sooner the beastly manner of our present discourse and the ugly emptiness of our contemporary expression.

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