Libraries: The Pros and Cons

Pros and cons, you say? What reason could possibly invalidate the use of libraries? Why would some stay away from this resource, this goldmine, so essential to our expansion of knowledge and understanding, which anyone can access, and which many do? It is beyond me to fully explain the reasons for this, for I do not possess that authority. However, I can submit an uneducated guess. But in order to do so, we must first begin with the pros:

The benefits are exponential. The brains of persons who consume immense knowledge are strengthened. Harnessed with the power of the Sun and the wind, branches are flooded with the energy of electricity, the lightning of thunderstorms, all bathing under the supervision of the most beautiful star, which is the source of our existence. The brain is irrevocably altered, brightened. Our brain function capacity increases. This brain is the master system of our existence. It controls our every movement, both internally and externally, and responds at the speed of light, while allowing us to remain blissfully ignorant of its power — perhaps intentionally.

For if it were possible to understand its vast complexity, we most likely would not survive that knowledge. We would be instantly struck down from the intensity of that light. And so, the brain is a benign organism, as well, for it knows us better than we know ourselves. It has its reasons. And those most likely act as a protective shield. It knows, for example, how many challenges we already experience while trying to understand a minuscule portion of its system, and so deems it wise, to maintain that percentage in perpetuity. Why? Because, though we are the most pitiful specimens it has ever come across, it still loves us. It knows it would be an exercise in futility (and cruelty) to grant us the authority to access the maze of its peaks and towers. Such a foolish expedition would be the last line in the slim volume on “The Wisdom of Homo sapiens,” as recorded in “The Books of Time”  … And so on their hands and knees, begging, knowing at that moment they were nothing more than a faint and imperceptible object, pleading and begging their soul to flee its paltry shell…their spark expired.

And so, those disciplined souls who cherish the ritual of the revolving doors of knowledge granted through the lending of books may one day reach a conclusion similar to the one above. But those who are utterly incapable of participating in this ritual, mostly for reasons of discipline deficiencies, well, they may be, unwittingly, granted some added protection.

I once borrowed a recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, and I became mesmerized. Several months passed — perhaps six, or more, or even a year? — before I appeared before the librarian and explained what had happened. Oddly enough, the librarian chose not to punish me. Instead, she told me:  “Just keep it.”  Perhaps she did this out of pity? Or perhaps she knew I was a vulnerable soul would forever be shielded from experiencing the consequences of the knowledge stated in the previous paragraph?  If so, I am thankful. And I dedicate this piece to the stewards of scholarship and knowledge throughout the world who alone preserve the history of civilization.

 

Goodbye Homer, Goodbye Clouds

… Remember that piece of shit I was talking about? …

Well it’s a bit difficult to analyze.  So I may get mired in my attempts to do so, while extracting what I can.  And will begin with a word about 2 comments posted on YouTube about The Guards of The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier, by someone who thought he was clever, shot the evening of a demonstration, this one primarily by The Anarchists, who amazingly—one wouldn’t expect this, would you, now?—showed a sharp sense of social boundaries and distinctions, made their presence felt, then returned to their homes…

No violence.  No shedding of blood.  Instead, a lesson in civil disobedience.

… Unlike Msoolala, the bright one, who roams unbridled, and who is a sterling example of the kingdom where he comes from —The Mighty Kingdom of Ignorance.

Msoolala is also the ideal specimen to show the rest of the world, for I had been talking about him (even though I had not personally met him yet) the night before, in my previous post, a small note at the bottom of the page, the next to the last paragraph.  There, I was much more diplomatic and kinder.

Not so here.

And although I had drafted several notes about the limitations of technology already, which I had planned to discuss, I found technology working in my favor last night.  And I always give credit wherever and whenever it is due.

I could have deleted Msoolala’s comment, but I chose not to.  (I tried to respond to the comment, and even though it was my channel, I could not!  Perhaps just as well.)  Instead, I decided to keep that piece of Ignorance right where it stood, as a reminder, a lesson, perhaps.  And determined that I shall always allow Ignorance to make its presence known and felt and seen.

However, thanks to technology, I can block its discreet particles, from making future comments.

I can make them vanish!

And I did.

And I shall.

Macedonia, Macedonia

Introduction

Yesterday, while exchanging emails with a person who I am profiling for an article, we discovered a mutual passion for music.  In addition to being a talented illustrator and publisher of Independent comics, Panagiotis is host to a radio show on FM 105.5, based in Thessaloniki, and focused on the Rock Metal genre.

When I tried to reach the station via the web, I realized I had to download a music player to listen to it, and was disappointed, since it was not practical for me to do so at this time.

Then while comparing our musical preferences, I asked Panagiotis what alternatives—if any—I had for listening to the station, besides purchasing a music player, and he said, “Basically we are a normal FM radio, but our antenna is big enough to cover most of Macedonia. For the rest of the world, it is not Fm 105.5, but just www.1055rock.gr.”

Macedonia, Macedonia

This reference to Macedonia immediately raised my antenna.
Which Macedonia? I thought.

Let me explain.

For some years now, there has been this bickering between neighbors over what name belongs to whom and why, and it appears that the aggressor in this rift is winning the battle.

There was a time when someone said, “Macedonia,” people understood this to be a territory in Greece.

Nowadays, however, there is massive confusion when one utters the name Macedonia—at least outside of Greece.  There are plenty of references to Macedonia as a historical territory associated with mainland Greece.  However, Greece’s neighbor to the north, has been in the throes of an identity conflict for the past 100 years, and now claims the name belongs to them and that region.

About That Conflict

A quick look at Wikipedia attempts to illustrate and document the history of this crises.

Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (circa 1918)
(The Conference of Ambassadors in Paris gave international recognition to the union on July 13, 1922, according to the source cited in Wikipedia.)

Kingdom of Yugoslavia (circa 1929)

The Invasion by the Axis powers (Who were they, anyway?) in 1941 obliterated the Kingdom of Yugoslavia altogether, and the title was “abolished” in 1943 and 1945.

My sympathies to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.  Looks like it weathered some tough blows in the early 20th century.

Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (circa 1943)

Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (circa 1946)

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) (circa 1963)

This apparently was the largest Yugoslav state and included other Republics and Autonomous Provinces, one of which happened to be SR Macedonia, so I suspect it is since then, that Slavic territories have been nurturing the idea that the name, Macedonia, belongs to them.

Further conflict rattled the region and its identity once again crumbled in 1991, and led to the formation of the…

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) (circa 1992)

This provided some stability and thrust FRY into the next millennium.  However, the region was once again beset by turmoil and the name, Yugoslavia, was abolished altogether—well, almost.

The regional conflicts continued for another decade and divisions and wars ravaged the land, further shifting its eroding base of stability and identity and alliances, and for example, produced…

State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (circa 2003)

What Happened Next

Not really sure.  It’s a bit fuzzy.  But in the intervening years, and during the last decade of the 20th century, the region north of Greece became known as the…

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) (circa early 1990s?)
Even though they really wanted to call themselves…
Republic of Macedonia

But this met with protests from Greece, which felt—and feels—its cultural identity pillaged and threatened by the behavior of its ambivalent neighbor to the north, to claim what has been part of its geographical identity and history as theirs.

How far will they go?

Good question.
And one you hear asked often.

“Soon they will be claiming Alexander the Great as one of their own,” is a thought frequently expressed.

Perhaps FYROM is attempting to borrow from ancient history a past that is not truly its own.  Perhaps this past offers the prestige it sorely needs to establish its own and separate and unique identity as a region of Slavic—not Greek—culture and history. Somewhat bizarre, to say the least.  To reach back to Antiquity and borrow the names assigned by invaders of other cultures of other lands.

Hard to say.

Check any geography textbooks, however—especially those published in the States—and you will see that publishers of educational texts hopped on the bandwagon some time ago, modified their textbooks, and now designate Macedonia as that region north of Greece.

And, as I have said before, Greece is not only coveted for its appeal as a holiday and cultural stop, but also attracts those who like to invade other nations—just as Greece did, thousands of years ago, stretch its empire to remote regions of the world—so today it suffers the same fate from others—and thus is especially sensitive about cultural intrusions.

Conclusion

So when someone mentions Macedonia today, it is fraught—at least for some—with confusion and conflict.  I am assuming Panagiotis means when he says Macedonia that part of Greece north of Athens.  I assume this because there are few Greeks who would today use that word to designate any region outside of Greece, however much that designation may have the blessing and support of international bodies and figures.

And so the writing of history continues to be a tricky business…

But let us never forget that marvel of automobile engineering—

The beloved YUGO!

Nor the proper historical context of its conception.