Premise: Books Are Weapons recognizes the revolutionary effect literacy can have on reclaiming our independence from the confines of mediocrity. Literacy enables the self-determination necessary to enjoying the basic human rights. Literacy, being a tool for coming to terms with one’s otherness, effects a change of consciousness more significantly than any other stimulant to the mind.
Secondary Orality is Post-Literacy. It’s media is electronic. It is about pixilated pictures talking; it is immaterial, reality is topped by virtuality and apprehension betters comprehension. In electronic communications, literacy is an impediment.
From Albert Murray to Kurt Thometz (From the Library of … Albert Murray):
“Reading’s the liberating divice because it makes the world yours. It’s like Miss Metcalf says in my book, The Spyglass Tree: “Windows on the world.” You see, when you sit in the library you own it. How can you segregate a guy who’s coming to terms with the whole world? If your acceptance of the ancestral imperative is to qualify as a hero you got to regard jeopardy as an opportunity. You see a dragon, see, it separates the men from the boys. What you get from education, from reading, is you get seven league boot, a longer stride.
People who are really involved with books aren’t bookworms, they’re more thoroughly involved than bookworms, because they’re constantly applying practical significance to books. “Literature as basic equipment for living,” Kenneth Burke used to call it. Without that, without a sense of form, without a sense of purpose, without a sense of beginning, middle, and end, what we have is insanity.
From Raids on the Unspeakable. Thomas Merton:
“In every case the artist should be in complete solidarity with those who are fighting for rights and freedom against inertia, hypocrisy and coercion: e.g. the Negroes in the United States. The American Negroes are at once the ones who fight for their freedom and who exemplify a genuine and living creativity; for example, jazz.”
From the preface to Life Turns Man Up and Down:
“Somewhere in the granary is the elusive kernel, the Word, the key, the moment of my rehabilitation. There are the cabalistic signs. The trouble is to find the key. Find the key and it leads to the Word. Very strange … very strange … a rash of these signs arrived lately. Oh God, Oh God, the enormity of unknown burdens, the hidden wisdoms. Say the word in our time, Oh Lord, utter the hidden word. But what in the hell do they mean? What in the power of hell do they mean?”
The predicament of the Word is the predicament of its interpretors. Wole Soyinka’s scholar in The Road contemplates the appearance of the Word in the still, dark age of a vanishing world. In Our Time, the Professor tells us, the words became signs, became unknown burdens to epistomologically ponder. Find the key and it leads to the Word. Say the word in our time, Oh Lord, utter the hidden word.
Me & Mr. Sanchez. Blue Rondo a la Turk:
“Remember long ago when folks were really smart? All the guys had white ties and dancing was an art.”
From No Bride Price by David Rubadiri:
“He was an old man who had seen life. In his village he had prepared himself to live a full life. But the change came. It was not a sudden change. A white man with a book in his hand. Every evening this white man with the book had sat at the edge of the village and played with the children.”
From Cybernetics by Norbert Wiener:
“Perhaps I may clarify the historical background of the present situation if I say that the first industrial revolution, the revolution of the “dark satanic mills,” was the devaluation of the human arm by the competition of machinery … The modern industrial revolution [i.e., the computer revolution] is similarly bound to devalue the human brain … The answer, of course, is to have a society based on human values other than buying and selling. To arrive at this society, we need a good deal of planning and a good deal of struggle…”
From The Human Uses of Human Beings by Norbert Wiener:
“In control and communication we are always fighting nature’s tendency to degrade the organized and to destroy the meaningful; the tendency, as Gibbs has shown us, for entropy to increase.”
From Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander. Thomas Merton:
“There must be the mechanical clicking of the thought machine manufacturing nothing about nothing, as if nothing had at all costs to be organized, and presented as if it were something, as if it had to be talked about.” … “But these others confront only the mechanical output of their own thinking machine. They don’t have the imagination or good sense to stand in awe of real emptiness. In fact, their rationalizations seem to be a complacent evasion: as if logical formulas could give them some thing to stand on in the abyss.
And now, just wait until they start philosophizing with computers. “
“If technology really represented the rule of reason, there would be much less to regret about our present situation. Actually, technology represents the rule of quantity, not the rule of reason (quality=value=relation of means to authentic human ends). It is by means of technology that man the person, the subject of qualified and perfectible freedom, becomes quantified, that is, becomes part of a mass-mass man –whose only function is to enter anonymously into the process of production and consumption. He becomes on one side an implement, a “hand,” or better, a “bio-physical link” between machines: on the other side he is a mouth, a digestive system and an anus, something through which pass the products of his technological world, leaving a transient and meaningless sense of enjoyment. The effect of a totally emancipated technology is the regression of man in a climate of moral infancy, in total dependence not on “mother nature” (such a dependence would be partly tolerable and human) but on the pseudonature of technology, which has replaced nature by a closed system of mechanisms with no purpose but that of keeping themselves going.
If technology remained in the service of what is higher than itself – reason, man, God – it might indeed fulfill some of the functions that are now mythically attributed to it. But becoming autonomous, existing only for itself, imposed on man its own irrational demands, and threatening to destroy him. Let us hope it is not too late for man to regain control.”
One thing I am tired of is all this talk of the internet being the wave of the future when it is the tsunami of the future. The machines have been directing us as much as we’ve directed them for twenty years now. Like a bad sci-fi novel, they have succeeded in rendering technological society immaterial, virtual, almost, but not real. Fragile, dependent, artificial, stupefied, more apprehensive than comprehensive.
The problem with the new media usurping the old media is that everything’s been said. The trouble with the new media is that nothing new’s been said on it and nothing’s likely to be said on it. When all literature’s been digitalized, it’s unlikely that anything any bright young thing says, another’s already said.
From The Library Show. Miami-Dade College exhibiton curated by Oliver and Adolfo Sanchez, 1983:
The BRAIN, which is called the Bimbo of the Soul, is the principle in which nonsense alights (get down) on the terminal of appreciation for every act of God we can cram thru our senses; 1st the EYES & 2nd the EARS. Eyes & Ears communicate the impression to the brainy matter where this fodder ferments … illuminating intelligence creating wholly spirits reduces Art claims as inspiration & instigation to perspirations, do’s and don’t hit, sweat and brow. The brow is the home for a brain. Pluralistic Pleurisy: A murmur of the heart.