Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The state of book challenges

Once upon a time, people who challenged books actually had to read. More than half a century ago, in order to be offended by Leopold Bloom sitting on his privy, one first had to read the fifth chapter of Ulysses, which (spoiler alert) does not feature a sentence remotely like “Leopold Bloom took a shit” though it does feature several paragraphs a thousand times more evocative of Leopold Bloom taking a shit. And if you got to the part with sex and managed to be offended, you were philistine but an unquestionably literate one.

No more.  

Now academics count swear words and calculate rates of profanity per hour. Now the metaphoric triumph of hope over  cruelty is deemed obscene because of words utterly divorced from their syntax to say nothing of their context. This is a worldview that does not acknowledge the existence of sentences, much less of thoughts. This is a worldview that sees isolated words as volatile pseudo-magical catalysts for reptile-brain behavior.

This is the post-literate world of book challengers (a world that’s too geographically close to my own for comfort), and that shit can go straight to fucking hell.