Ray Bradbury, in his afterword to Fahrenheit 451, says that "the library is our brain. Without the library, you have no civilization." What a wonderful analogy for us, the library employees, to work with. We who scuttle between the synapses and bookstacks of this building-sized brain, picking up thoughts and putting them back down again, healing damaged brainwaves, setting the library's mind back in order.
And what a mind it is! The library, by nearly any diagnostical standard, is brain-damaged! Or schizophrenic! Or, at the very least, is raging drunk! The library-brain has conflicting thoughts like Think! and Blink!,which are shelved right next to each other, one written to refute the other. Putting them together is a dangerous idea, like placing matter and anti-matter in close proximity, tempting them to annihilate each other.
The library-mind is further confused by conflicting thoughts like Why Evolution is True while at the back of its mind it also thinks Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong. How is a brain to cope?
In Kentucky, a library worker tried to prevent a patron from receiving a book that she (the library worker) felt was inappropriate. There! Problem solved! The brain fixes itself, heals the rift, and is blessed with a dogmatic clarity of thought!
But No, Wait.
The American Library Association's code of ethics states that "expurgation of any parts of books or other library resources by the library, its agent, or its parent institution is a violation of the Library Bill of Rights because it denies access to the complete work, and, therefore, to the entire spectrum of ideas that the work was intended to express."
Characteristics of the Library-Brain
Unfortunately for the library-brain, in order for it to remain a library, it must remain insane. It must rage and rant at the rest of the world in various streams-of-consciousness, first spouting one idea, then the complete opposite. Because the library-mind is not human. It does not judge. It does not distinguish or differentiate right ideas from wrong ideas. An idea is an idea, and the entire spectrum of ideas is broadcast to all, restricted by nothing except those few people who lift books and steal movies from the stacks, eating holes into the library-brain like a cannibalistic prion disease, sinking it inch by inch into senility.
Photo Credit: brain blogger
Josh Pearce is an oil painting. Salvador Dali painted him in 1970, following the canons of his particular interpretation of surrealist thought.