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The noise in the library is enough to kick start my inner cynical dialogue, and I'm fantasising about when global hegemony is mine and I get to institute literacy and intelligence tests in order to ensure that the deeply stupid are held under house arrest. Although this sounds somewhat illiberal, I think it is essentially a utility win, since in the outside world they are at best an annoyance to others and at worst a public health hazard. I think some standardised testing would help with Western Bogan Regional Library's selection as well, as they seem a little heavy on the fluffy chick lit, the Cartlands and Dan Browns, and excessively light on the more interesting literature. They also don't really have a politics/philosophy section, which is not tremendously surprising given that the vast majority of other library patrons seem at a loss for what to do while they wait for their hour of free facebooking time, the prospect that they might shut up and read something seeming a bit beyond most of them. Normally the sheer volume of books in a place like this would have my inner nerd in paroxysms of joy, but this is somewhat abated by the high proportion of pastel covers and disappointing reality that they don't have any Dostoevsky, but they do have six copies of each Twilight book.

This may be a left wing politics fail, given that the sorts of semi-literate goons I am currently encountering in the Outer Western Burb Bogan Book Depository are probably of the disadvantaged socio-economic classes, the sorts of people who think the baby bonus represents value for money and who seriously consider a fourth child as a savings plan towards a flatscreen television. (Because Border Security just isn't the same on the smaller screen..?) Unfortunately, I can't help it. I am keen to promote literacy and give everyone the opportunity to experience the wonderful world of the written word, access to the the combined knowledge of Western (and, for that matter, Eastern, I suppose as well) civilisation.

I love the notion of the democratisation of knowledge, in theory, anyway. Everyone has potential, every child should be given the opportunity to know and love Orwell. This fades somewhat when I am confronted with the sorts of people who think making a flamethrower from a Lynx deodorant is the height of intellectual endeavour, the sorts of people who were something of a pustulent plague at Further Out West Secondary College, and I am transported to memories of a time in which learning how to put out spot fires in your hair was a survival skill necessary if you sought any sort of formal education. I can't help wishing these kids had paid more attention when the primary school was trying to help them understand the complexities of Spot. Sure, the system failed them and they were probably raised by the kind of only barely sentient bogan parents who see the education system as a convenient childcare system and a necessary evil until the kids hit sixteen and can go start a family of their own and get on the dole. Nobody inspired them with the written word, read to them as children, listened to them read. Nobody showed them the value in knowledge, and it is a tragedy. I don't have an easy fix for this, but I think it's probably not a terrible start to bring back corporal punishment and empower librarians to brutally beat people incapable of using inside voices within what should be peaceful places of learning. At the very least, we should be capable of ensuring a minimal standard of behaviour for within libraries such that they are not periodically turned into hyperdomes attracting confused-looking neanderthals whose minimal attention-spans are positively indulged with shiny colours and the sort of literature which would be of more social use pulped and lining litter trays.

Oh, who am I kidding? A peaceful place of learning, the modern local library? No, they must be non-threatening and welcoming! Libraries now apparently feel the need to compete with the local shopping centre for tack and vacuous shiny things, encouraging 'expression' and 'approachability' so that the bogan is essentially transported to the book section of Big W, except the books are free and no one will shout at them for being particularly obnoxious or letting their children climb all over the shelves. It is archaic, and far too much to hope, this expectation that people might come to the library to be quiet and read something. It is surely only a matter of time before they begin to hold Zumba classes and offer little cocktail sausages on sticks. And then, why not allow for corporate sponsorship, so that the children's section could, for example, be sponsored by Dora the Explorer and be all about teaching pidgin Spanish and the joy of merchandising to inquiring young minds? Hola Kids! Come Explore(TM) the Dora The Explore(TM) Combine Harvester! It's pink and makes pretty sounds while it's grinding the other neighbourhood kids into a scarlet jammy pulp!

I may have gotten a little carried away there, although since there is apparently already a Dora themed toaster, probably not as carried away as it is possible to get. Let me make this simple point relatively clear. The library should contain books. It should contain useful periodicals. There's probably nothing wrong with some documentary style DVDs in moderation. It should probably contain some sort of internet acces, but preferably in a space removed from other areas of the library so that no one needs to hear excitable bogans rant on about how good they are at Farmville. And maybe some sort of nasty-looking contraption with lots of spikes bearing a sign which explains in quite small and graphic words what happens to those who can't manage to keep their voices down and control their infinetismally tiny attention spans for the duration of their stay in the region of the books. We are unfair on the bogan. By never requiring it to adhere to a bare standard of civility we never give it the opportunity to peel itself from the glittery tack of its cultural aesthetic to embrace something more substantial.

Crap. With rants like this, it's only a matter of time before I'll be penning concerned citizenry letters to editors about the Youth of Today. Don't get me started on museums without explanatory placard things, either. Glorified fucking pomo art displays...


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Jan. 28th, 2011 08:36 am (UTC)
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