Hang on, hang on….they haven’t finished the last one yet….
Hang on, hang on….they haven’t finished the last one yet….
‘Nothing makes a man more reverent than a library’
– Winston Churchill
Not going to quite agree with this comment, which comes from an aside in a famous essay ol’ WSC wrote about his discovery of painting as a hobby.
I’ve loved libraries, certainly, ever since I ever discovered them when I was aged five (my first ever library book was Dr Seuss’s ‘Horton the Elephant Hatches an Egg’ from the Waiuku Public Library). (one further aside: you don’t want to see me at the business end of any sort of a paint brush. Not at least unless you’ve had a safe distance installed first).
But I can certainly think of plenty of things that have made me more reverent than libraries.
Mostly nature, the outdoors, and so forth (see some of the pictures which adorn this publication)… there’s reverence, awe, and a sense of ineffable wonder.
But on libraries themselves…my main emotion I think has been hunger, a ravenous, at times slightly desperate intellectual appetite.
Tinged with a touch of awe, certainly, but that awe is secondary.
Besides, to me ‘reverence’ makes you hang back a bit. You don’t want to approach the alter with too much enthusiasm in church. You can never be too sure what the Divine Ironist has in mind – except it’s bound to be something you haven’t expected and that it’s bound to be a bit of a doozie.
In the case of libraries, I just want to get at ’em. Reverence is there but it skips, hand In hand, with a wide eyed, gleeful and – let’s be honest about it –a wee bit too innocent enthusiasm.
And yes, I suppose, the ultimate ‘kids skipping hand-in-hand with a wee bit too innocent enthusiasm’ were found in the first book of the Bible, where they fairly notoriously came a bit of a cropper.
After I left the home town as a teenager – especially when I moved to big places like Wellington- about the first thing I did was join any libraries going. In the case of Wellington, two whole, massive libraries – the Polytechnic library as well as the public libraries – were on tap.
Like the beer, only much much much better. And I didn’t actually need to deepen my voice to order books at the library, somehow it just felt as though ‘The Ginger Man required a deeper voice. And perhaps some facial fair.
These city libraries were places of awe, certainly. But more, they were places of a kind of desperate and slightly bewildered, unfocused hunger than of reverence.
There was so much there: so much to discover. And they were run by these helpful, but often daunting, highly educated and sophisticated people called librarians.
I has reverence and respect for librarians, certainly. Likethat started with the librarian who, back home, introduced me to this wondrous system called Interloan.
Being able to order up books from any library in the country was a breathtaking discovery. Used to go into the Waiuku library every second Friday after school: order up some book or books I’d discovered in a footnote or bibliography I’d found recently.
Let me at ’em!
Then as the year wore on, discovering second hand books stores, these inspired awe and reverence, joy and discovery.
Cheap books you could actually own! Repositories of the worlds’ wisdoms and follies you could return to and scrawl disagreement in the margins!I actually dream about second hand bookshops. No exaggeration. Sometimes they are stores I have known: more frequently my dreams are some sort of combination of every second hand book shop I have ever known, plus an unconscious idealisation of what a perfectly arranged (and here I use the term ‘arranged’ loosely, if not wildly inaccurately) shop would be like.
‘Now, the disposition to be conservative in respect of politics reflects a quite different view of the activity of governing. The man of this disposition understands it to be the business of a government not to inflame passion and give it new objects to feed upon, but to inject into the activities of already too passionate men an ingredient of moderation; to restrain, to deflate, to pacify and to reconcile; not to stoke the fires of desire, but to damp them down. And all this, not because passion is vice and moderation virtue, but because moderation is indispensable if passionate men are to escape being locked in an encounter of mutual frustration.’
– Michael Oakeshott, from ‘On Being Conservative’. An important reminder for true conservatives, in today’s environment.
Just what conservatism is meant to be – an approach to political management and government which is focused on the calm solution of the inevitable difficulties and tensions of life – not of deliberately inflaming those difficulties and tensions for short term political advantage.
‘Of all the corrupters of moral sentiments, faction and fanaticism have always been by far the greatest’
– Adam Smith
‘The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward.’
-John Maynard Keynes
‘Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.’
-Douglas Adams. For Towel Day.
Well, it sounds like the Royal Wedding went off okay. That has to be a relief, I’m sure.
I slept through it, as is my own personal tradition for royal weddings, but I know a lot of people were excited and worried about different bits so I’m glad everything seems to have been tickety boo.
I suspect people were watching Prince Philip closely at that bit where the minister asks if there is anyone who has any objections to the marriage. I could just see him raising a choleric argument or two.
Anyway, best wishes to the happy broadcasters and dress makers.
Err. I mean, couple.
For Budget Day. The first one I’ve missed covering for 22 years. Ah well. Next year. Time and fiscal policy wait for no man. Or panda.
Ian Dury’s birthday. One of the cleverest wordsmiths to ever front a rock band – and what a rock band. The Blockheads were magnificent, especially the rhythm section of bassist Norman Watt-Roy and drummer Charley Charles.
Here’s the band live, and in their prime. Love that great loping bassline.
Today is also World Chronic Fatigue Day, which is definitely something not to be cheerful about. I was diagnosed with this at Uni: unlike some, I got over it, albeit gradually. Others haven’t been so lucky.