Saturday, January 07, 2006

Reading Between the Whines

Go into a bookstore. Sit down and just look around. Go ahead... look around... I'll wait...

If it is a locally-owned store, the odds are good that there will be less to observe. If it is chain bookstore, this will work better. Just look at all the books. Look at them! Lord have mercy, how many books are there in the world? How many opinions and ideas and thoughts and rants and stories and guides have there been? How many people have seen fit to share their wisdom with the world over these years of literacy? So many ideas on so many topics. So many ways to save yourself and the world. So many ways to finally find happiness in ten easy steps. So many first-hand observations of the great moments in history offered up through the filter of someone's philosophical, ideological or theological preference. Christ, so many words that have pretty much solved nothing. The world has wonderful things about it, but it is still largely fucked up in ways that scare even someone as jaded as I. What a waste. So many people thinking they know so much about so many things. What do they really know? What do any of us know? The only thing sadder than all those wasted trees is the fact that so many people think that this shit will really help them. They nervously fiddle with the hems of their clothes until Oprah tells them the next book to read. I love looking a shelves of books that are at odds with one another: Christian vs. Non-Christian, Capitalist vs. Socialist, America vs. the World, Atkins vs. Ornish, Free Weights vs. Machines, Rock vs. Rap, Windows vs. Mac. It goes on. Half the words written are outright lies and the most of the rest are probably suspect. But, if it makes us feel better, we'll overlook that.

Look, I'm not down on books. I love them as much as the next guy. I guess I find it depressing to see all this knowledge in one place and still having to acknowledge that we are as stupid as we've ever been. It is humbling (which is good) and discouraging (with isn't so good). Look, even if some books could actually help us, which ones do you read? How can you tell? There are millions of them! And most will never see the inside of your local bookstore. Bookstores, like TV, are not there to help you. Bookstores are there to turn a profit for the owner (unless they are a co-op or something similarly uncommon). Sure, some folks open stores to serve a point of view, but even so, most books ever written will never see the inside of your store. Those spots are reserved for the really important books. You know, like cookbooks and exercise books and life coaching books written by celebrities. I guess we get the world we deserve.

Sorry for the rant. I guess I'm just depressed. I think I'll go buy myself a book. That always cheers me up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

a bit of Carl Sagan ( or alot ) and mix in some Edward O. Wilson, sure can cure some ills. us homo- sapiens actually seem to have a chance after reading these guys, at least they do leave hope. As a father of two, with my deference and regards, Gary,.

February 13, 2006 5:07 PM  

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