Note from the author: The
below excerpt details how books will always be important to humanity and to the
survival of civilization, even if that is on an invisible moral level with the
inheritance of passing knowledge down to future generations.
The scene takes place in the basements of the Korporation’s mega-city-like headquarters. The Korporation has built its foundations upon the Korporate Library, which is located deep underground and was once the New York City Public Library.
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remember,” Conquergood whispers into the limitless virtual holo-sky. “I do
drops his gaze from off the digital ceiling and in a state of fervid alacrity
Conquergood recasts the first library he had ever been in.
Avenue,” he says to himself, spinning inward in the silent erudition of
mind’s eye, still hovering high above the compass imprinted upon the library
floor, he witnesses the entrance to the Fifth Avenue Library: a staircase with
a prostrate stone lion on one side and a stone vase on the other.
Conquergood moves through four towering columns into the effulgent New York
City Public Library. His vision catches sight of a similar sign which now hangs
on the entrance to the Korporate Library. And it is the name — John Milton —
which halts the memory.
I do remember Paradise Lost and a
great many others.” Conquergood struggles into the depths of his eternal soul.
“But that can’t be. That’s impossible. That was so very long ago.” How long? He does not remember.
he struggles with the memory as his frantic mind races with meta-calculations.
In his memory, he continues seeing rows of long wooden tables with entrenched
readers intent on unlocking secrets away from the pages before them, before the
time of the World Wide Web and the virtual environments, separating humanity
from the natural world of touch and taste and smell. Chandeliers of such
exorbitant sunshine reflecting its clean light upon a white floor and its brown
walkway in between rows of tables. Buttresses lining the walls, windows giving
ease to the artificial glow from above. And Conquergood is seeing it all — as
clear as any memory from five minutes ago.
remains embodied in both libraries, being two places at once, propagating
between both worlds, the real and the recollection. He welcomes the exotic
sensations the journey carries, admiring his own awe of what libraries had
been, before the Era of Digitization conquered them; the rules of being
forbidden to speak above a whisper cascade back onto his memories, as well as
the mustiness of age and wisdom being on free display, and he remembers how
these holy sites often went un-used and became under-valued over the
can now recall how he had behaved on his first visit to the library. As a small
boy he had been nervous with polite reverence, uncertain of which way to turn,
of which aisle to discover, and which row to select from, of which bookshelf to
choose from, of which book he should pull from its everlasting hearth, of which
pages he should read from in order to breathe in its fiery passions to fill a
dulled boy’s heart, igniting a mind to inspire upon ‘a life beyond life.’ The
books had held lives of their own back then. But now he also knows that these
books had made up a whole body, as though each book was a cell in a living
organism in a state of repetitive meditation and waiting for the hand to pluck
them from the tree which bears endless fruit. Feeling overwhelmed, Conquergood
reluctantly leaves his memory-vision.
selecting several more books, Conquergood glides down on the hover-slide and
locates one of two old-fashioned Georgian style leather armchairs next to a
small table and banker’s lamp with bronze base and an amber mica shade. Above
the two chairs is an oil painting, “Still-Life of Books, 1628” by Jan Davidsz,
and Conquergood sees in the painting a violin placed on a wooden desk among
from the beginning of the first book he chose, and savoring each morsel of each
word on his lips — as a dehydrated man does in a desert when an oasis can be
found just in time to save his life — Conquergood finishes the book in under
phoneme grasps and wets his tongue in unexpected new language and cognizance.
He finishes the book, places it down on the side stand, and in a fit of bedlam
and clarity, juxtaposed with his soul, says aloud,
the ghost that’s always around, but nowhere to be found. Why is that?”
the decades of change and virtual globalization, Conquergood can hear the
author’s voice echoing concrete certitude from the page:
“Without the library, you have no civilization.”
|Photo credit: Thor