discussions writing & publishing

Library Protests & How Not To Treat Borges’s Grave

Two pieces of literary-type news, both in the Guardian. Firstly, there are going to be some ‘read-in’ protests at the systematic destruction of society in the name of helping the wealthy Tory’s culling of local library services. The protests will take place on the 5th of Feb:

A “carnival of resistance” to library closures will take place on 5 February 2011, with over forty library “read-ins” scheduled in a coordinated protest over the threatened closures.

Local events are being organised from Hounslow, Brixton and Lewisham, to Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Doncaster and Oxfordshire, with many writers – including Philip Pullman, Mary Hoffman, Malcolm Rose and Carole Matthews – due to take part.

Author Alan Gibbons, who has been a leading voice in the library protests, said the read-ins were a “carnival of resistance to closures”, and that the government was “feeling the heat”, with even former Tory lead Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, voicing concerns that badly planned cuts could lead to services being sacrificed unnecessarily.

Most people are starting to figure out now that the cuts are mostly just Tory idealism in practice. I’d love to be a part of these, but will be at the SFX Weekender (which I must blog about again soon).

Secondly, it appears some chap has decided to have his photograph taken by urinating on the grave of Jorge Luis Borges:

Jorge Luis Borges was possibly the greatest Spanish-language writer of the 20th century, but the Chilean author Eduardo Labarca felt the best tribute a fellow writer could pay would be to urinate on his tomb.

A photograph on the cover of 72-year-old Labarca’s latest book appears to show him doing exactly that in the Geneva graveyard where Borges’s well-tended, flower-adorned tomb lies.

The photo has provoked outrage in Borges’s native Argentina, even though Labarca admits the stream of water descending on the great man’s grave actually came from a bottle of water hidden in his right hand.

“This is in bad taste and is a violation,” said the Argentine culture minister, Jorge Coscia. “You don’t gain anything by urinating on a tomb.”

Well, that’s one way to self-promote…

EDIT: Oh, and I totally forgot. Dunecat:

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

8 replies on “Library Protests & How Not To Treat Borges’s Grave”

Mark, this may sound an odd question, but are you registered with your local library? Great if so, do so if not. Maybe worth asking your readers the same question.

I, despite having grown up a library user and making my living from words, books and such in one way or another ever since leaving school, was for many years not. I had the luxury of being able to afford to buy pretty much any book I wanted; I was one of a generation who probably unconsciously began to think of libraries as for people poorer or older than me, even though of course consciously I’ve always considered libraries a fundamental part of society. I suspect my non-use of libraries is not atypical.

That changed as both the level of my income and the nature of my work changed. I’ve been an avid library user for the past three or four years, but for many years I was not registered with a library at all. Everyone who supports libraries should go and register – membership is probably the most convincing statistic we can have.

Hi Matt,

I am, yes. Nottingham seem to have some general city card which can be used at all the city’s libraries (the ones scattered about the local communities).

If I’m honest I’ve not been for a year or so, mainly because much of my research is done online these days, and also because my time keeps being squeezed and it’s a bit of a trip. (Though we’re having a new one built as part of a super-drop-in-medical-social-services mega centre, which isn’t far at all.)

And thanks for highlighting the value to the folks who can’t quite afford lots of books. For poorer communities, the effects would be very long lasting.

Oh, I forgot. Gosh!
Here in Italy a group of ignorant politicians (members of Berlusconi’s party, “Popolo delle libertà” – translation: “Freedoms People” 😉 decide to ask to Public Libraries of Veneto region to remove from the shelves all the authors that had talked about Cesare Battisti, in some way defending him (I don’t agree with them, but we all have freedom of thoughts in Democracy).
That’s what they are doing in Italy: they’re trying to censor free thoughts. That’s the way politicians are using economic and financial crisis to undermine rights and change the Democracies in something completely different.
In Italy the fact is the less alarming, but it remains a fact.
We need to fight (with no weapons) to save rights conquered in Centuries of History. That’s so sad.

“Labarca was unapologetic today about the cover to his book The Enigma of the Modules, saying it could best be understood by reading the work itself.

‘Peeing on that tomb was a legitimate artistic act,” he told the Guardian. “The cover of the book is coherent with the contents and is best understood through that.'”


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