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Split: Public Libraries & Shamanism [from What we're all reading]

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  • Split: Public Libraries & Shamanism [from What we're all reading]

    I note with interest the titles that some of the above posters are trying to get their local library to stock. My problem is trying to get my local library to stock anything, never mind sci-fi/fantasy!! In this day and age, bookshelves have been shelved in order to make way for :parent and toddler groups, feng-shui groups, yoga groups, tai-chi groups, communists, I could go on all day!! Anyone else witnessing something similar in their local library?

  • #2
    Well, public libraries respond to communities, presumably, and have to do what their community most demands. Maybe we should all be trying to get our communities to read more and ask for more books at their local libraries ?

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

    Comment


    • #3
      The public libraries here shut down about a half hour before most people get home from work during the week, and keep extreme bankers hours on Saturday, haven't heard a peep of outrage, I'm on a different schedule than most of my fellow townsfolk so I do get regular chances to keep the librarians from napping as much as they might.
      "A man is no man who cannot have a fried mackerel when he has set his mind on it; and more especially when he has money in his pocket to pay for it." - E.A. Poe's NICHOLAS DUNKS; OR, FRIED MACKEREL FOR DINNER

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
        Dumbing down certainly seems to be progressing at a lick. I remember my friend Jonathan Carroll in Hollywood a few years ago talking to me on the phone. They want me to dumb it down some more, Mike. I CAN'T dumb it down any further. And he was trying...
        I have trouble imagining Carroll's work "dumbed down." Maybe Outside the Dog Museum could be re-imagined as an action movie with a gun-toting LA architect kicking ass in the Middle East? Who needs that allusion to the Tower of Babel?

        I also have trouble thinking of him taking any crap from anyone. He's a pretty imposing guy, physically. (I should add that he seems anything but imposing in his writing and his generous responses to his readers on his blog).

        Comment


        • #5
          I've had great experience with librarians, who have often gone far out of the way to track down titles for me. I had to be persistent, but I found one librarian who liked doing a little detective work as a break from the normal job routine.

          Hey Miqque-
          Josef Kiss might be the most fascinating character in any of Mike's novels, don't you think? So much to discover about him...

          Comment


          • #6
            I first heard "learning resource center" used in place of "library" back in the early seventies. I believe the “new” term was meant to reflect a progression to an improved level of information availability--video media, microfilm, microfiche, and so on--though I suppose it might also reflect the emergence of a more bureaucratized culture where things are named to represent their function (rather than being named the old fashioned way, er, according to what they are), and I've heard criticism from some philosophers who claim such terms reflect the German practice--which is attended by an undesirable "German" (read "mechanistic") type of sensibility--of hitching long trains of words together to coin phrases. Which, upon reflection, reminds me of a friend from England just arriving to America, who laughed when I showed her the sign in front of the "Journal Square Transportation Center" in Jersey City:

            "Transportation Center? Transportation Center? Nonsense! It's a train and bus station. Hah, Americans are so stupid."

            At my college, the library is now called the “Learning Commons”, which reflects the considerable supporting role the department plays in helping students achieve success. The Learning Commons offers all sorts of help to students, from simply getting oriented to very thorough assistance in negotiating the complex internet-based resources that students have access to. The Learning Commons also lends all kinds of support to instructors, including providing course development assistance and Web CT course design assistance; and they maintain a “virtual faculty lounge” which helps part-time faculty stay in touch with what’s going on in the college. In Ohio we have a state-wide system called OhioLink (see www.ohiolink.edu) which gives students and faculty access to the collections in all the colleges and universities in the state system. Some private colleges are members as well; and also a number of local libraries in the county and city systems, which boast some excellent collections of their own. Altogether, OhioLink represnets one of the best library systems in the country. There are of course rare exceptions to what can be borrowed. For example, in Ohio the only available copy of the film The Final Program is at the Cuyahoga County Public Library, where it cannot be checked out but must be viewed inside the building. There are of course other items—usually to be found in the many rare book rooms at the big universities--that can’t be checked out either; but the exceptions are very few in comparison to the vast number of volumes that can be borrowed. Access to searching the entire OhioLink system is available over the internet, and after locating the item you wish to borrow, you simply type in your name and library card number, tell the system which campus you want the book delivered to, and you’ll get the item in about three days. How cool is that! OhioLink also has subscriptions to a multitude of databases, which give students and faculty access to hundreds of thousands of journal articles. If the article was written before the age of electronic storage, you can simply order the bound journal volume the same way you would order a book, and it will arrive in about three days.

            The electronic databases are a goldmine of information, though they have given rise to controversy as well. One of these differences of opinion has surfaced at the University of Toledo, where a friend in the humanities has reported to me that because of the on-line data bases, less money is being allocated to purchase new books. This, my friend says, is fine for the sciences, as the journals and journal articles are the primary medium of communication in the scientific and technical fields. In the humanities, however, he says that the book is the primary medium of communication, particularly so in English. These are very interesting problems, and I am confident sitting on the committees that are set up to sort these issues out must be very rewarding.

            A very good thing is that, because they are so computer and internet savvy, students can rapidly master these various resources, and if the instructor can find out what the students’ interests are and then convince—or coerce, LOL!--them to research their interests, well, a lot of good progress can be made. It can also be lots of fun.

            I was reading Milton lately, but lost interest—for the time being anyway. I’ve also been doing some revising—and reading your own stuff can get really boring. Again, for the time being. I’ve been very excited recently by youtube. Hu-Hu has done lots of research, has picked out some very tasty performances and has started a thread in the music discussion forum at P-X that links up to them. I think youtube might change (here we go again) our understanding of literacy. For example, how long will it be before we are making up videos and discussing, for instance, Mike’s work, and uploading our ideas to youtube . . . and not only discussing our ideas, but performing them as well?

            Last edited by nalpak retrac; 09-01-2006, 07:58 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Americans may be a little more prone to this, but bureaucratitis is a form of failed shamanism, in my view. It means you think that by finding the right magic word the thing will become what you want it to be without you having to do any work or put any money into it. Thus 'Transportation Center' means 'we hope there'll be a bus or a train along today or maybe a friend will notice you waiting and pick you up and give you a lift'... Medical Center could be 'we hope you get better while waiting interminably for a medical professional to see you'. And so on.
              Libraries can be brilliant, depending on funding and location. Friends in the NE seem to find libraries a lot better and more accomodating, with interlinked loan services, than friends in, say, the SW. We have a pretty good library system still in my part of Texas, I must say. Laura Bush's support for libraries, of course, doesn't go as far as getting her non-reading husband to get more funds for them. Instead, there are interminable fund-raisers in which we ask the same reasonably benign rich folks for another hand out. To me this is demeaning in a modern society.
              Begging has, of course, become a common form of seeking to survive in modern times. The more beggars on the street, it seems to me, the more beggars in the public sector trying to get something like schools or child care funded. Same with obesity. Major problem in the US. Not a problem in Somalia...

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Mike, I'm with you on this, beaucracy can definately put the sham back in shamanism .

                Carter, by extension would this make librarians into learing commoners, (commonors ?) and the patrons into learning commonees or just plain learners? Learning communists?
                "A man is no man who cannot have a fried mackerel when he has set his mind on it; and more especially when he has money in his pocket to pay for it." - E.A. Poe's NICHOLAS DUNKS; OR, FRIED MACKEREL FOR DINNER

                Comment


                • #9
                  Carter, for what it's worth--

                  If I remember correctly, you can link to the Popular Culture Library at BGSU through ohiolink, where they have an extensive collection of Mike's work.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I like the Shamanism tie-in, Mike. Clever, and very apt. Actually, I was just thinking the other day about your short story portraying the Native Americans who run down into the underground caves and lose themselves, so to speak, in the abstractions of their Second Ether beliefs, while the white man takes over their ancestral lands . . . they became lost in the ghost dance, you might say.

                    I once sat down in a pub in London with an older gentleman who identified himself as working class, and we had a conversation in which he made some interesting points about the American working class, chiefly that American workers were insufficiently active in preserving their rights—wages, working conditions, health care, and so on (and, as an aside, I wonder if the subject of our conversation might reflect upon why I bring it up here). This was the first time I had been to England, and the first time I had talked to a working class Englishman. More than the substance of the conversation, which was fascinating, I was struck with the way my friend used language. I was favorably impressed with his ability to express exactly what it was he wished to say, his mastery of nuance, his sensitivity to emotional effect, and, above all, his clear enjoyment of conversation itself. There are lots of grey areas of course, there are Americans who are very clever speakers indeed, but in general I believe my friend represented a culture possessing superior language skills to what is generally found in America.

                    I once had a conversation with another Englishman, an Oxbridge don who is a leading figure in the subject of Wittgenstein, who attributed America’s confusion with “abstract nouns” (veritable “monsters” in Wittgenstein’s philosophy, the demons of "the modern superstition") to German immigration. But please, I am simply reporting what I understood to be his position. There are certainly other dynamics involved, one being what Mike has described as “American Kulak culture”. A.K. Moore in his book The Frontier Mind makes a pretty good case for describing just how wild were the immigrants from the British Isles who settled America—interestingly enough, this is a thread Hunter Thompson takes up in Hells Angles when he describes the cultural antecedents of the people he knew in motorcycle gangs in northern California. I think Thompson calls them “longhorns”, but what he is describing is the wild people—chiefly English and Scotch-Irish (lowland Scots)--who rode the frontier wave until it crashed into the Pacific Ocean. I believe these people have also had a hand in the philosophical degeneration of American English—that is, a shift away from Socrates, Locke, and liberalism. In this case, an anarchic culture has discarded the desire to use language as a tool, relying instead upon the endless frontier as an engine of liberty. More recently--since the 30s--the influence of continental intellectuals in the universities has introduced ideological orientations that are stripping American English of its former English “tentative” and “experimental” nature—these built-in orientations, which we associate with English and, more technically, Analytic philosophy, being replaced by authoritarian (Leo Struass, neocon) and “progressive” (Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Frankfurt School, post-structuralism, neolib) views and methods, which, in advancing their political agendas, have sought to modify language and language use to suit their ends.

                    In any event, the “American” disregard for language is a tricky problem, since it is so very complex and thus hard to pin down. It’s better—much simpler--just to fix the problem. Of course, some will say there is no problem, but I think we only have to take a look round to see that the neocon project is a dangerous failure, while the neolib project has, at the end of the day (and ironically) done much to empower the various neocon elites as they advance their project of nation destruction and corporate hegemony. In regard to the neolib project, I can only wonder at the neolibs discarding Locke and Jefferson, and thinking they could brush aside hundreds of years of liberal political evolution, and then rapidly and effortlessly replace it with a superior article. Must have been the brown acid….

                    I think Wittgenstein provides tools for fixing our language problems at the level of the modern university—academic fields need to be examined, their use of language reviewed. More generally, Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” is a good place to begin studying the issue—it should be required reading in high school; certainly undergrads and postgrads should review it too; along with a section in the postgrad methodology courses which addresses the use of language in the respective disciplines: an examination of the use of discipline-specific terms and propositions, with an analysis of the sense of these propositions, with special attention to the ways in which linguistic abstractions produce philosophical credulousness, conceptual confusion and scientific error.

                    And as for this thread? A tie in? Hmm. Ah! The above is what I’ve been reading about the past fifteen or twenty years. In addition to the Second Ether material of course!
                    Last edited by nalpak retrac; 09-02-2006, 11:10 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hmmm. American English has revitalised English and continues to do so.
                      There is still a laconic American which gave the world such useful phrases as OK and 24/7. The American of Faulkner and Hammett. Southern American, rich in every virtue of English and old-timers, at least, who can tell tales in the most beautiful, musical English you've ever heard. Public language is indeed degenerating as is the language of politics, but Woody Guthrie represented the working class pretty well, as did many of the old blues singers and Bob Dylan isn't doing badly in continuing to formalise an English he took from the likes of Guthrie and refined and enriched still further. Texan English. Louisiana English. Mississippi English. You can't tell me these haven't made the language more beautiful and able to express a wide range of feeling, often in brief, poetic ways. One of the reasons I moved to Texas was because I stood behind a bunch of kids at the Astropark listening to them moving from English, to black English, to Spanish fluently and rhythmically. Some of those rhythms I hope I captured in Blood and The War Amongst the Angels. And I love Eudora Welty with a passion. If there is a decline, it comes from what I perceive to be 'Chrishtunspik' with its horrible, convoluted euphemisms and pomposities, which George Bush borrows from and which even Clinton, who can speak well and in complex sentences, made use of in a knowing way sometimes. It comes from a perception in the media that the audience, rather than the performers, are dumb. It IS high time America started using its extraordinary language to defend its constitutional rights as well as extend its liberties. It took Tom Paine's eloquence to rally the revolutionary troops. Many believe without him the revolution would have faltered and everyone would today be Canadians, as it were. But that eloquence was continued through the likes of Jefferson and Thoreau and dozens of others, including Andrea Dworkin, whose powerful use of language on the public stage would convince the hardest, meanest male chauvinist to march with her! Until we learn to value real oratory again in America, we will be enslaved by the dumb and the greedy. Until we learn to speak directly and avoid reality-curdling euphemisms, we will probably deserve most of what we get. The language is there and being used (think of the poets who have changed poetry in English forever) but we need to insist on its return to public debate. Public debate is reduced to a few seconds of TV spots, these days. It's up to us to reclaim it by demanding that our presidents don't pronounce nuclear 'nukiler'. There's nothing much wrong, in my view, with the American people. They are, however, seriously under-represented at every level. Real language is likely to go a long way to getting that representation back.
                      Sadly, you'll find that old working class eloquence disappearing in England as much as it is disappearing in, say, black culture, becoming less analytical and more aggressive, less well informed and more demanding of 'rights' from a paternalistic government. A greater identification of the individuals' need witht he common need probably would help, too, though I would not like to see the American notion of individual rights disappear.
                      They have certainly been corrupted. For this I blame 'liberal' and relativistic school teachers, as much as anyone. To demand more for oneself, one should demand more of oneself.

                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                        Sadly, you'll find that old working class eloquence disappearing in England as much as it is disappearing in, say, black culture, becoming less analytical and more aggressive, less well informed and more demanding of 'rights' from a paternalistic government. A greater identification of the individuals' need witht he common need probably would help, too, though I would not like to see the American notion of individual rights disappear.
                        This is a great topic. Man, what would Anthony Burgess say?

                        I grew up in the midwest, which speaks a language as flat as the plains it's built on. Very monotone, very . . . I want to say 'sober' but that's not quite it. Maybe "mundane" as in Blake's notion of a "mundane shell", which of course is not in itself a bad thing, as breaking out of it is a very wonderful thing.

                        Thanks for pointing out the south. I think there is a measurable "Yankee attitude" that is suspicious of the language of the south. I have known northerners to sneer at the south, accusing the people of being deceitful and subersevient in their language. As far as local color goes, one has to look closely for it in the Midwest, where there is a built-in attitude that says "we don't have any of that corny local color stuff here" . . . but certianly the film Fargo uncovered some great language in the uipper Midewest, where incidently I lived for awhile, and unfortunately over-looked it myself. John Cougar Melencamp is a great representative of the language of the lower Midwest, and he very much speaks the language I was exposed to growing up, though Ohio's economy is much stronger and more diverse than Indiana's, and that economy has created a more cultivated language--deeper and broader, maybe a bit smarter. What strikes me about language in the Midwest is the coldness, the sharpness, the hardness. But just the same it can sound very friendly, very safe and, er, "normal".

                        I had a friend who worked on freighters in the Great Lakes during the 70s; I remember him shaking his head and saying the story-tellers were all getting old. An entire wordview was passing away.

                        One of my co-workers is from Canada, and her husband, who is in his 70s, speaks a beautiful Canadian English that you don't hear anymore--when I first heard him my head instantly fillled with pictures of Mounties, the old Canadian flag, Canadians going over to Britain in the 1940s to join the RAF, and so on. Very soft, very earnest, humble, with a slight suggestion of something heroic.

                        When I lived in West Virginia people could hear differences in speech patterrs from town to town and from county to county. Very fascinating stuff. The old timers speak very softly, and it is very pleasant. My girlfriend and I believe that in West Virginia there is a problem with people talking "baby talk" to their children, and affecting the speech patterns of the adults these children grow into, and this is passed on from generation to generation. Maybe Doc ciould comment on this? My grilfrind talks "hillbilly", and it is an ongong farce--or rather tragii-comedy. She makes up words, "picks" at me, and generally plays the fool, but all to great effect of course.

                        Living in Britain and coming back to the Midwest was a wild ride--my first expereince with culture shock, and it was in my own country to boot. After just getting in from the airport I sat down to watch the 11:00 PM local news and it struck me that "these people can't talk!" I was darn near alarmed. And then I woke up the next morning and looked out the window. Rather than the rich green I had grown used to, the grass looked yellow! Yipes! It was an emergency!
                        Last edited by nalpak retrac; 09-02-2006, 09:09 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Love the shamanism cognome, Mike. Seems spot on! Such corruption of the language and the mind is probably the primary reason people seems so flat-out stupid nowadays. I swear, I think the common vocabulary has shrunk to about 300 words, fifty or so of those variants of cuss words. Try to speak at length about any true deep thought, people tend to get really, really angry. They then think you're a "smart ass" and "uppity".

                          "Don't get smart!" Why not? I'd much rather be smart than stupid. I like functioning at a level higher than animals. (Cats, of course, are more people than people, most of the time.) (Which reminds me - Heinlein also loved cats, so the two of you had at least one commonality!)

                          I despair when I observe the vapid lives many people live. I admire transcending the ordinary. I admire caring for larger issues of caring for people in society, elevating the spirit, taking on the philosophical imperatives of truly allowing humans to become greater than primal urges.

                          Over time I have own two great libraries of my own (not so great as yours, Mike - I don't think either would have filled half a shipping container!). My friends used to come and spend time just browsing and reading various editions I had painfully amased - pulp magazines, all the works of Freud, comics piled high, classics, full series of various characters, technical journals (mostly psychology), and esoteric tomes of arcane knowledge. Even when poor one of the fist things that 'just sorta happens' is an accumulation of printed material. Right now I have a couple hundred comics and little else, but that will change as I have any spending cash at all. I've already scoped out the local used-book stores; and the library has regular sales. Last sale I could have easily dropped a thousand bucks and started a whole new library - especially in the hardbounds from the thirties and earlier, most going for only a few dollars. I feel very comfortable being surrounded by books, videos, and music. (Somehow I did manage to retain a few hundred CDs despite the purging of the past few years).

                          If I do not actually [i]own[/] books, I sure do know how to get access to them! I'm drawn to libraries, disappointed when the selection is scant. If I don't get my "reading fix" I withdraw terribly. Tolerance has risen, and it takes three or four a week to make me satisfied.

                          One thing I've never really understood at a gut level is those who do not experience pleasure from learning. I don't buy the idea that learning is miserable, but apparently many do. Exploring this, I find many folks had early negative experiences with learning, and/or learning was somehow frowned upon. (See earlier statements about "don't be smart".) What I wish is that a majority of people would undergo just enough psychotherapy to allow them to resolve these issues, and to begin to enjoy learning and revel in the pleasure of expanding the mind.

                          Which reminds me - I'll need another "fix" as soon as I finsh a double-reading of Mother London (up to Part Three).

                          Thanks again, Mike, for being such an excellent provider of my drug of choice!
                          Miqque
                          ... just another sailor on the seas of Fate, dogpaddling desperately ...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I know that I sound naive, but I would really prefer my representatives to be
                            straightforward in their talk.


                            I do not need or want euphemisms and the like from the media,the government etc.

                            I want them to tell me what it is,not what it is like, especially in important situations. I fully can understand whatever it is they want to tell me.

                            Language is interesting,though. it's good to grow and transform, but it should be used!

                            I don't have that wide of a vocabulary myself, but I find that I only use about 20% of it,haha,in everyday life. I think it more,than speak it.

                            I sometimes,get a what was that? or a huh? when I say somehing that is not heard much in my environment, or maybe it's because I arrange my sentences
                            strangely.

                            perhaps bad pronunciation on my part? :)

                            "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
                            - Michael Moorcock

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Carter Kaplan
                              This is a great topic. Man, what would Anthony Burgess say?

                              ...When I lived in West Virginia people could hear differences in speech patterrs from town to town and from county to county. Very fascinating stuff. The old timers speak very softly, and it is very pleasant. My girlfriend and I believe that in West Virginia there is a problem with people talking "baby talk" to their children, and affecting the speech patterns of the adults these children grow into, and this is passed on from generation to generation. Maybe Doc ciould comment on this? My grilfrind talks "hillbilly", and it is an ongong farce--or rather tragii-comedy. She makes up words, "picks" at me, and generally plays the fool, but all to great effect of course...
                              I lived in SE Ohio briefly, right across the river from Parkersburg WV. Went camping in the Appalachias, too. I actually find 'hillbilly' and the regionalisms quite pleasant and engaging, too. I have to say that on the whole the people in WV are the sweetest I've known, and they seem genuinely so. They have a great love and respect for their 'Wild and Wonderful' WV, which I found encouraging.
                              Come to think of it, after growing up in California, and having picked up 'Wisconsin' from my mom, I must have a strange accent, myself!
                              Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.
                              -Yousuf Karsh

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