Mar. 29th, 2017

Taboo art

Mar. 29th, 2017 08:38 pm
korafox: (melancholia)
I got an email today that said our college library is putting together a display of "transformed" books for National Library Week--books that have been altered by being drawn on, had things pasted on, had the pages cut up to make 3-D effects, etc.  They are asking for loans of any such books people might have.

I just...do not know how to feel about this.  Well, I know how I feel.  It causes an immediate and visceral negative reaction in me.  I cannot imagine taking a knife to a book, even to create art out of it.  I've never been able to even highlight or underline in textbooks, let alone dog ear pages.  I just don't know whether this is a mala prohibita thing that is just my own bibliophilic moralizing, or if it's actually a mala in se offense that goes against the Good and Just order of the universe.

It's not like I have delicate sensibilities when it comes to art.  "Piss Christ" didn't faze me, and I can just shrug at Christo's "let's cover a bridge with tarps" installations (I do worry about the environmental impact, though I think he makes efforts to minimize it).  But I wouldn't break into someone's house to steal their paints, and I wouldn't go into a museum and scribble on paintings someone has already made.  That's what cutting on books feels like to me--these are already works of art, complete, and they belong to everyone in the sense that they are physical records of the human body of knowledge. 

I just think about what would happen if we have a nuclear apocalypse, and how precious that knowledge would be.  Can you imagine being one of the monks from Canticle for Leibowitz, and you come across this treasure trove of "transformed" books?  How devastating it would be to find these texts, chopped to bits and missing half or more of their information. 

So, yes.  I will never be able to bring myself to make art out of books in any way that damages them.  Alas, it is the way of things that there is not a damned thing I can do to keep others from doing so.

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