A book has been taken. A book has been taken? You summoned the Watch,” Carrot drew himself up proudly, “because someone’s taken a book? You think that’s worse than murder?”The Librarian gave him the kind of look other people would reserve for people who said things like “What’s so bad about genocide?
The level of intelligence has been tremendously increased, because people are thinking and communicating in terms of screens, and not in lettered books. Much of the real action is taking place in what is called cyberspace. People have learned how to boot up, activate, and transmit their brains.Essentially, there’s a universe inside your brain. The number of connections possible inside your brain is limitless. And as people have learned to have more managerial and direct creative access to their brains, they have also developed matrices or networks of people that communicate electronically. There are direct brain/computer link-ups. You can just jack yourself in and pilot your brain around in cyberspace-electronic space.
This country has a UFO problem, after all. You might not have been aware we have one, or thought about it in these terms, but we do have a UFO problem: namely, we don't seem to understand what UFO really means. So here it is: a UFO is an unidentified flying object. So any time we see some object flying in the sky that we can't positively identify, we've seen a UFO. But in the same way there's words paranormal and supernatural have been conflated, we now equate UFO with alien spacecraft.How this came to be is easily understandable. If we've learned one thing in this book already, people don't like the unknown very much. And so, if we believe we're being visited by other civilizations, we read the piles of books and articles on unexplained lights in the sky, then fill in the massive gaps—with wild tales of alien races, interstellar technology, and government conspiracies. If we don't believe, we hear someone saw an unexplained light in the sky and assume, first, that he's claiming to have seen E.T. Then we figure what he really saw was an airplane, Venus, swamp gas, or a helicopter, and he must be a bit foolish—maybe even a UFO nut. Then we laugh.
But once an original book has been written-and no more than one or two appear in a century-men of letters imitate it, in other words, they copy it so that hundreds of thousands of books are published on exactly the same theme, with slightly different titles and modified phraseology. This should be able to be achieved by apes, who are essentially imitators, provided, of course, that they are able to make use of language.
To me, summer has always been about potential. This was especially true when I was in high school. Those 3 or so months between 1 school year and the next always meant change. People got taller or wider or smaller. They broke up or came together, lost friends or gained them, had life experiences that you could tell had transformed them even if you didn't know what they were. In the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible. As a teenager, I was always hoping to change, to become someone other than who I was. Each summer, I felt I had the chance to do that. All I had to do was wait and see what happened.
This little book has been written in the hope that it may appeal to several classes of readers.Not infrequently I have been asked by friends of different callings in life to recommend them some book on mimicry which shall be reasonably short, well illustrated without being very costly, and not too hard to understand. I have always been obliged to tell them that I know of nothing in our language answering to this description, and it is largely as an attempt to remedy this deficiency that the present little volume has been written.
The claim at the heart of this book has been carefully researched by several generations of scholars and is orthodox in academic circles, if not beyond. Christians under the Roman Empire were neither constantly persecuted nor martyred in huge numbers for their faith. They were prosecuted from time to time for alleged sedition, holding illegal meetings or refusing to sacrifice to the emperor. They were, like other convicts, sometimes tortured and executed in horrible ways. They seem to have been regarded by many Romans with distaste as a particularly silly superstition. But Christian stories of thousands of individual and mass martyrdoms over centuries have at best a limited basis in historical fact, and in many cases are sheer fiction.
Some of this book—perhaps too much—has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it—and perhaps the best of it—is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.
My identity as Jewish cannot be reduced to a religious affiliation. Professor Said quoted Gramsci, an author that I’m familiar with, that, and I quote, ‘to know thyself is to understand that we are a product of the historical process to date which has deposited an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory’. Let’s apply this pithy observation to Jewish identity. While it is tempting to equate Judaism with Jewishness, I submit to you that my identity as someone who is Jewish is far more complex than my religious affiliation. The collective inventory of the Jewish people rests on my shoulders. This inventory shapes and defines my understanding of what it means to be Jewish. The narrative of my people is a story of extraordinary achievement as well as unimaginable horror. For millennia, the Jewish people have left their fate in the hands of others. Our history is filled with extraordinary achievements as well as unimaginable violence. Our centuries-long Diaspora defined our existential identity in ways that cannot be reduced to simple labels. It was the portability of our religion that bound us together as a people, but it was our struggle to fit in; to be accepted that identified us as unique. Despite the fact that we excelled academically, professionally, industrially, we were never looked upon as anything other than Jewish. Professor Said in his book, Orientalism, examined how Europe looked upon the Orient as a dehumanized sea of amorphous otherness. If we accept this point of view, then my question is: How do you explain Western attitudes towards the Jews? We have always been a convenient object of hatred and violent retribution whenever it became convenient. If Europe reduced the Orient to an essentialist other, to borrow Professor Said’s eloquent language, then how do we explain the dehumanizing treatment of Jews who lived in the heart of Europe? We did not live in a distant, exotic land where the West had discursive power over us. We thought of ourselves as assimilated. We studied Western philosophy, literature, music, and internalized the same culture as our dominant Christian brethren. Despite our contribution to every conceivable field of human endeavor, we were never fully accepted as equals. On the contrary, we were always the first to be blamed for the ills of Western Europe. Two hundred thousand Jews were forcibly removed from Spain in 1492 and thousands more were forcibly converted to Christianity in Portugal four years later. By the time we get to the Holocaust, our worst fears were realized. Jewish history and consciousness will be dominated by the traumatic memories of this unspeakable event. No people in history have undergone an experience of such violence and depth. Israel’s obsession with physical security; the sharp Jewish reaction to movements of discrimination and prejudice; an intoxicated awareness of life, not as something to be taken for granted but as a treasure to be fostered and nourished with eager vitality, a residual distrust of what lies beyond the Jewish wall, a mystical belief in the undying forces of Jewish history, which ensure survival when all appears lost; all these, together with the intimacy of more personal pains and agonies, are the legacy which the Holocaust transmits to the generation of Jews who have grown up under its shadow. -Fictional debate between Edward Said and Abba Eban.
I finally found my way to the Really Restricted Section, where they keep the kind of books most scholars aren't even supposed to know exist. I knocked on the closed door, said the proper passwords, and the door opened before me. I walked in, and the ghost of the Head Librarian, a thin, dusty presence, with dark eyes and a disapproving look, appeared before me, blocking my way. (He had been eaten by a book, then brought back by the other books, apparently because they approved of him. Because even though he didn't have much time for people, he loved books.)
Every person you meet has been assigned to play a role in your story as you are assigned to play one in someone else’s. I often say that the people we come across can be one of the four kinds. They can be like pebbles, fountains, quagmire or bridges. Pebbles are those who you meet commonly and in abundance. They do not facilitate anything great but they help you continue walking on this journey of life. Everyone you cross in life without really connecting with them are pebbles. Then there are fountains – who spring water of happiness on you. They bring positivity and joy; they nourish your soul and irrigate the seeds of good thoughts. Your friends, well-wishers are all fountains. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, you have quagmires. These are the people who cause you pain. Now, even some pebbles may have caused you pain as it happens if you tread on a barbed pebble but the difference is that quagmires do that on purpose. They pull you down, induce fear and negativity by discouraging you and worrying you. They will not let you move on – that’s why they keep you bogged down in your failures. Finally, the rarest ones are the bridges – they connect you to unchartered ground that you wouldn’t have reached on your own. They unite you to your destiny. With them, your plane of consciousness expands, you see things you have not seen before; your life becomes more aware, more enlightened. Your parents, your teachers and anyone who touches your life and transcends it into something more beautiful – they are all bridges.
Reading alters the appearance of a book. Once it has been read, it never looks the same again, and people leave their individual imprint on a book they have read. Once of the pleasures of reading is seeing this alteration on the pages, and the way, by reading it, you have made the book yours.
A stage adaptation of The Giver has been performed in cities and towns across the USA for years. More recently an opera has been composed and performed. And soon there will be a film. Does The Giver have the same effect when it is presented in a different way: It's hard to know. A book, to me is almost sacrosanct: such an individual and private thing. The reader brings his or her own history and beliefs and concerns, and reads in solitude, creating each scene from his own imagination as he does. There is no fellow ticket-holder in the next seat. The important thing is that another medium--stage, film, music--doesn't obliterate a book. The movie is here now, on a big screen, with stars and costumes and a score. But the book hasn't gone away. It has simply grown up, grown larger, and begun to glisten in a new way.
I picked up one of the books and flipped through it. Don't get me wrong, I like reading. But some books should come with warning labels: Caution: contains characters and plots guaranteed to induce sleepiness. Do not attempt to operate heavy machinery after ingesting more than one chapter. Has been known to cause blindness, seizures and a terminal loathing of literature. Should only be taken under the supervision of a highly trained English teacher. Preferably one who grades on the curve.