Is it wrong to burn books?

Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Deepcrush » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:23 am

Burning a book, like any action of fear, only makes the next action all the more easy to commit. Ego, fear, books... doesn't really matter. Once a person starts down a path like that then its rather difficult to turn around from.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Mikey » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:06 am

GrahamKennedy wrote:I'm very aware of what the symbolism is and how nasty the thought behind it is. Yesterday I was right there in line with people who viewed that symbol that way. What I'm saying is that the meaning of symbols can change, and maybe it would be a good idea to work on changing how people view this one.


It's not a question of choice of how the the symbolism is intended. You may view things differently now, and if I alone encountered you burning a book and you then explained your new viewpoint, I'd probably accept it; but you know fully well what the majority view would be if you were televised burning a pile of books, and you'd be bloody-minded and perversely literal to think you'd be free of any wrong-minded intention by so doing in a public forum. You're far too intelligent to go ahead and claim that because of your new viewpoint, people shouldn't choose to see your book-burning as what it has traditionally symbolized. Such an argument would be tantamount to Alex asking you what soda fountains have to do with being banned from this board.

Traditional perceptions aren't changed through individual effort, they evolve organically. Book-burning symbolizes what it does because of what it really meant: fear; hate; and desperate, mean little minds grasping power by attempting to mold and force the thought of the ruled. Any attempt to change the current symbolism of that act can't succeed, because it can't change what the act was.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:14 am

Mikey wrote:
GrahamKennedy wrote:I'm very aware of what the symbolism is and how nasty the thought behind it is. Yesterday I was right there in line with people who viewed that symbol that way. What I'm saying is that the meaning of symbols can change, and maybe it would be a good idea to work on changing how people view this one.


It's not a question of choice of how the the symbolism is intended. You may view things differently now, and if I alone encountered you burning a book and you then explained your new viewpoint, I'd probably accept it; but you know fully well what the majority view would be if you were televised burning a pile of books, and you'd be bloody-minded and perversely literal to think you'd be free of any wrong-minded intention by so doing in a public forum. You're far too intelligent to go ahead and claim that because of your new viewpoint, people shouldn't choose to see your book-burning as what it has traditionally symbolized. Such an argument would be tantamount to Alex asking you what soda fountains have to do with being banned from this board.

None of that has anything to do with what I said.

Traditional perceptions aren't changed through individual effort, they evolve organically. Book-burning symbolizes what it does because of what it really meant: fear; hate; and desperate, mean little minds grasping power by attempting to mold and force the thought of the ruled. Any attempt to change the current symbolism of that act can't succeed, because it can't change what the act was.

No, I think you're wrong as can be about that. Not only can perceptions be changed through individual effort, it's the only thing that can change it. All perceptions are created through the acts of either one individual or a group of individuals. History is littered with examples of society's attitudes and perceptions being created or changed in this way. To take the attitude that you can't change anything because you're just one person against the world is nothing but an abrogation of your own power.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Mikey » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:37 am

GrahamKennedy wrote:None of that has anything to do with what I said.

Beg your pardon, then, it seemed to speak 100% directly to what you said.

GrahamKennedy wrote:No, I think you're wrong as can be about that. Not only can perceptions be changed through individual effort, it's the only thing that can change it. All perceptions are created through the acts of either one individual or a group of individuals.

I disagree (obviously. ;) ) I think such perceptions as we'd been discussing are created completely passively; as I mentioned, the connotation of book-burning wasn't arrived at via some deduction or logical leaps - rather, it was writ (without editorial action on the part of the observers) because said connotation was exactly what book-burning meant, and was exactly how it was intended by the perpetrators.

GrahamKennedy wrote:To take the attitude that you can't change anything because you're just one person against the world is nothing but an abrogation of your own power.

That's very kind and uplifting, and you might make a good life coach one day (at least, for someone why buys into that new-age crap, unlike myself; ) but what I said has nothing to do with "one person against the world." What I said, and think I clarified above (and will attempt to further clarify presently,) is that the symbolism we'd been discussing isn't the province of active effort; and is rather the product of people seeing the real, present meaning of the act in question (i.e., book-burning) and then having it become an almost Jungian archetype.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Lt. Staplic » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:43 am

I'm siding with Mikey on this. Society Symbolizes things not based on any conscious desire for that to represent this, but simply because at some point the action/image/phrase did actually mean this. That is, IMO, the nature of a symbol, to carry on the ideas and essence of an action/image/phrase long after the physical act looses it's ability to have that effect.

So while your right that burning a book no longer has the physical meaning behind it with the availability of information today, I think that point really is unimportant to the idea that is being expressed. It's not just about the action itself, but also the connotations with what is happening. Books are still the symbolic basis/foundation of information (i.e. one still "hits the books" when studying), and Fire is seen as a way to destroy and disagree with the burned object (i.e. flag burning). So your now talking about overturning the symbolic idea of the action itself, but to do so you'd also have to change/advance the symbolic meaning of the basic parts.

Just my two cents worth.

EDIT:

Going back to the original question I still think it is a horrible thing to do, not because it will actually destroy the information but because of the meaning behind it. As nick said that your condemning a thought/idea to the area of non-existence is wrong IMO. All knowledge, thoughs, ideas have a place and to destroy them is, again IMO, a crime against humanity.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Reliant121 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:46 am

On a personal level, I can't help but feel sorry for the person burning the book (if its in a symbolic context of course) since his desire to express such a disgusting level of intolerance is just sad. Sad and humiliating for him.

However, I realize that to the majority of the population of the Earth, it is deeply offensive. I may not like it, I find it futile to get angry about someone being an attention seeking t**t; but its the way it is and public policy IMO should mirror the way people feel.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:29 am

Mikey wrote:
GrahamKennedy wrote:To take the attitude that you can't change anything because you're just one person against the world is nothing but an abrogation of your own power.

That's very kind and uplifting, and you might make a good life coach one day (at least, for someone why buys into that new-age crap, unlike myself; )

I wouldn't know about new age crap. Not really my province.

but what I said has nothing to do with "one person against the world." What I said, and think I clarified above (and will attempt to further clarify presently,) is that the symbolism we'd been discussing isn't the province of active effort; and is rather the product of people seeing the real, present meaning of the act in question (i.e., book-burning) and then having it become an almost Jungian archetype.

The symbolism is most definitely the result of individual efforts, and the perception of that symbolism can, and IMO should be, changed. The real present day intentions of people like Jones isn't what I'm discussing.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:35 am

Lt. Staplic wrote:Going back to the original question I still think it is a horrible thing to do, not because it will actually destroy the information but because of the meaning behind it.

That's the point I'm making, though. Lest I've not been clear, I'm not saying that it's okay to try and destroy information. I think it's awful to do that. What I am saying is that since burning a book doesn't destroy information any more, and you know that, why don't you change your opinion of what it means to burn a book?

Let me put it this way. Suppose you took a random book you own and burned it right now. You don't even tell anybody else you've done it. Would you think that you had done a bad thing? Why?
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Tsukiyumi » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:16 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:Let me put it this way. Suppose you took a random book you own and burned it right now. You don't even tell anybody else you've done it. Would you think that you had done a bad thing? Why?


I would since print books are on the decline lately. F*cking e-readers.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:36 pm

Tsukiyumi wrote:
GrahamKennedy wrote:Let me put it this way. Suppose you took a random book you own and burned it right now. You don't even tell anybody else you've done it. Would you think that you had done a bad thing? Why?


I would since print books are on the decline lately. F*cking e-readers.

Another thing that kind of helped prompt this thought to me was a discussion I read between two authors. One of them was just offered a half million dollars by a publisher to write three books, and he turned them down to self-publish them as ebooks instead. There'll always be a niche market for paper books, but it will become like vinyl records or horse drawn buggies. And not in some distant future, the changeover is already happening. Amazon sell more ebooks than paper ones right now, and book shops are closing by the hundreds.

That's why the symbol of burning a book has become meaningless for me. Books just aren't what they used to be.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Mikey » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:45 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:The symbolism is most definitely the result of individual efforts, and the perception of that symbolism can, and IMO should be, changed. The real present day intentions of people like Jones isn't what I'm discussing.


If that sort of intention isn't what you're discussing, then what is? Did you start this conversation to talk about people who have run out of heating fuel and have to burn books in their stoves to cook and heat their families? [/irony]

Face it; burning books is always intended to mean the "old" connotation, so why should the public with a higher moral center ignore that by choosing to believe it doesn't? If I saw a group hanging African-Americans in effigy, you'd call me an evil and stupid man for telling you that I don't think it means that group is bigoted. How is that different from choosing to believe that a book-burner isn't trying to publicize hatred, fear, prejudice, and small-mindedness?

GrahamKennedy wrote:Let me put it this way. Suppose you took a random book you own and burned it right now. You don't even tell anybody else you've done it. Would you think that you had done a bad thing? Why?


This is a complete red herring. Did you really start this to ask about some random, individual book being burned in secrecy? No, I didn't think so.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Mikey » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:47 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:The real present day intentions of people like Jones isn't what I'm discussing.


Nice way to change the goal posts. You referenced that situation, and the Qu'ran multiple times including in your hypothetical, in the OP.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Mikey » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:24 pm

Ugh, I'm sorry for the triplicate post, but I'm trying to do this while wrangling a hurricane chasing after my son.

I will try to simplify what I've been trying to say. There are two possibilities regarding the meaning behind this discussion:

#1 - GK is talking about the actual, physical process of burning a printed book, and the ramifications of the destruction of the contents of that single book. Obviously, this would be a pedestrian, mundane conversation at best with no real point; and further, would mean that either: the OP was intentionally misleading, or that horses were switched midstream.

#2 - We are really talking about a useful topic, that being the burning of books such as proposed by Jones or perpetrated by the Nazis or by the anti-thought lobbyists such as burned Salinger et. al. in the 50's. This case is for more worthy of discussion.

In this case, then yes - we can decide to interpret the burning of books differently than has been the historical custom; but doing so is both useless and cowardly. Jones, the Nazis, the people who burned The Catcher in the Rye,* et. al., meant that historical implication. Therefore, ignoring that implication by choosing to believe something else is so much burying of heads in the sand.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Lt. Staplic » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:52 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:
Lt. Staplic wrote:Going back to the original question I still think it is a horrible thing to do, not because it will actually destroy the information but because of the meaning behind it.

That's the point I'm making, though. Lest I've not been clear, I'm not saying that it's okay to try and destroy information. I think it's awful to do that. What I am saying is that since burning a book doesn't destroy information any more, and you know that, why don't you change your opinion of what it means to burn a book?

Let me put it this way. Suppose you took a random book you own and burned it right now. You don't even tell anybody else you've done it. Would you think that you had done a bad thing? Why?


I would feel bad yes, but no it wouldn't be an act of evil. But then that scenario isn't what I'm talking about. There cannot be the context of society on an event you do purposefully in private to avoid such context. So if I took one of my old textbooks went out into the middle of a field where no one could find me and set it on fire and watched it burn, just because I had the urge is not the same thing as me burning this text book and telling people or doing it where other people will see. The nature of the symbolism is not for the person taking the action; it's for everyone else.

What if you happenned to notice a plume of smoke coming from one of the local churches and upon investigation found that they were burning a pile of evolutionary biology books. Would you simply think, oh their having a good time and wanted to start a fire before it got too dark? Or would you see the symbolism of the action. Obviously they can't destroy the information on evolution; but the fact that they want to and are 'trying' has clear connotations around it.
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Re: Is it wrong to burn books?

Postby Captain Seafort » Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:33 pm

Lt. Staplic wrote:What if you happenned to notice a plume of smoke coming from one of the local churches and upon investigation found that they were burning a pile of evolutionary biology books. Would you simply think, oh their having a good time and wanted to start a fire before it got too dark? Or would you see the symbolism of the action. Obviously they can't destroy the information on evolution; but the fact that they want to and are 'trying' has clear connotations around it.


And? Continue on your way with a chuckle, no more. :lol:
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