October 10, 2005
Two weeks ago, I got to go to a reading of banned books organized by the staff of Morris Library. It was even a gorgeous morning for the reading. I don't remember anyone's names, but I'm pretty sure that this lady was reading from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Whomever was going to read Ginsberg was ill, so there was nothing from "Howl" read. I have to admit that I was disappointed that no one selected any Hemingway, since he's as banned as Steinbeck. I was suprised by the kinds of things that books get banned for. Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms is banned because of the extra-marrital affair and pregnancy and because of the drinking. Harry Potter encourages witchcraft and general cheeky-ness. It seems that books get banned because they have naughty characters. But how come no one bans things like Nietzsche for the ideas (save for Communist books, I suppose)? It's probably a good thing that books don't get officially banned because of the ideas as often as they get banned because the characters drink and sleep around, and I am sure that there a lot of books that never make it to publication because of the ideas expressed in them. I realize I'd be setting myself up if I were to ignore that. But it is strange to think of how Puritanical and judgmental we are as a society. I suppose that the gay marriage debate comes more from this than from the Bible. And with a lot of other things. There's nothing in any holy book that says that weed is a sin. But it's illegal. Etc. We're not pious. We're uptight.