Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Libraria for the Librarians


I'm troubled, deeply troubled, to learn that President Bush won't do more to help the Librarians. All I can say is, whenever I needed help, Librarians helped me. When I had to give an oral report on the Peloponessian Wars or the Amazing Amazon, the old Special Services librarian in the little library above the PX at Carlisle Barracks was right there, helping me pick my way through the Dewey Decimal System, and the card catalogue, and the stacks, until I had just what I needed. And when I wanted more Tom Swift adventures from the quaint brick Carnegie library in Wayne, Nebraska, and when I hungered for more Hemingway in Pacific Grove, and when I needed to make out in the privacy of the closed stacks at CCNY, there was always a Librarian eager to oblige.

Now I hear that the Librarians are stacking their dead compatriots outside the American Embassy in Libraria as a desperate cry for aid. First of all, I want to say that even though it's very very sad to learn that Librarians are killing each other, it makes me very very GLAD to know that they have their own country. I mean, who knew?

Apparently, back in the 19th Century, Librarians weren't all that welcome here in America. This must have been before Andrew Carnegie gave all the money for the libraries, because after he did I'm SURE every American Librarian was MORE than welcome.

Anyhow, BEFORE Andrew Carnegie, I guess people just weren't reading enough, and some of the Librarians felt kinda EXTRA. They said, "Americans are more interested in killing Indians, or buffalos, or building railroads, or fighting bloody civil wars, than they are in READING about them. So maybe it's about time we established a country of our own, a country where Librarians are truly welcome. And we'll call it: Libraria."

"But what if once we get there we'll find nothing but MORE LIBRARIANS. So we'll have too many Librarians and not enough readers?"

"But Librarians are the ultimate bookworms. And no Librarian can master the whole universe of books. Each Librarian can have his own specialty and help all the other Librarians when they have questions. After all, even doctors have to go to other doctors. GP's have to go to proctologists, and internists see psychiatrists, and neurologists consult with urologists, and cardiologists get diagnosed by podiatrists."

"But podiatrists aren't real doctors."

"Neither are chiropractologists or numismatists, and the jury's still out on osteopaths, and though most doctors are sociopaths, not every sociopathologist is a doctor----but they ALL need the help of a good Librarian. EVERYone needs Librarians and Librarians need a nation of their own where they can speak their own language and rule over their own stacks."

"What IS the language of Libraria?"

"Words, words, words. Librarian includes: French, Urdu, Esperanto, Ebonics, binary code, logarithms…."

"Those last two aren't words…."

"You're trying to tell me binary code isn't words? It's TWO words: binary and code. And you can write almost all other words with them. And logarithm is a word, too, though logarithms aren't exactly words so much as mathematical formulae…."

"It's all wonderful. So then why are they killing Librarians? Who is killing Librarians?"

"Other Librarians. Librarians are running wild in the street. Some of them as young as 10 years old. They're carrying assault weapons and they're killing on whim."

"Why doesn't the President of Libraria DO something?"

"Apparently he's part of the problem. He's a bookburner or something."

"Unbelievable. A Librarian who burns books? I never thought I'd see the day…. Then why doesn't OUR President do something."

"He's not sure Americans WANT their boys risking their necks for Librarians."

"But his own WIFE is a Librarian."

"Not any more. She USED to be a Librarian, but now she's a rich lady who lives in the White House and hostesses state dinners and TALKS more about books and reading than she actually LIVES them."

"That's sad. She seems like a nice lady. I hate to hear about Librarians getting away from their roots."

"And that's just why American Librarians returned to Libraria, to get back to their roots. Geneticists tell us that about 200,000 years ago the first Librarians rose up in Africa, just about where Libraria is today."

"You mean there were Adam and Eve Librarians?"

"That's the theory. At least, they've traced X chromosomes back to the Mother of All Librarians. Eve. They're not so sure about Adam. It seems that women have always been there first when it came to books and learning. Eve ran a lending library called the Tree of Knowledge, and one day she lent a fabulous book about good and evil to Adam, and he just couldn't handle it and lost it somewhere under some papers and got like a gigantic fine on it, such a huge fine he didn't have the courage to return the book at all, no matter how many notices and warnings Eve sent him. Finally, Eve assigned his case to a collection agency, and Adam got the hell out of Readers' Paradise, and he dragged Eve with him, and they had Cain and Abel, and Abel borrowed Cain's first edition of Men without Women, or maybe it was The Story of O, anyhow, whatever it was, Cain got really pissed and killed Abel and after Cain died he got sent to Librarians' Hell, which is almost exactly like the Raider's training camp in El Segundo."

"But before he died and went to El Segundo, how did Cain be fruitful and multiply? Where were the lady Librarians when he needed them?"

"That is one of the great mysteries of the Book of Librarian Genesis, my friend. Because you see, the only female on earth right then was Eve, Cain's mother."

"You're making me SICK! You can't be saying what I think you're saying!"

"Well how else do you think they made little Librarians? It was this repulsive, disgusting, sin which gave rise to the entire race of Librarians. And this was why so many redblooded Americans hated Librarians back in the mid 19th Century. That and the fact Americans hated to read and Librarians made them feel guilty for NOT reading."

"Then why did Americans bring Librarians over to America in the first place?"

"The early American settlers had all these trees and all these leaves which just cried out to be made into books. And they knew they needed SOMEBODY to keep track of those books and lend them out and even READ them. And they also knew it sure as hell wasn't going to be them. So American slavetraders sailed over to Libraria and stole away thousands and millions of Librarians from their bibliophiliacal paradise and shipped them to America chained up in the holds of ships covered with their own feces and urine and bookmarks. And once the surviving Librarians arrived in America, they were whipped and stripped of their books and torn from their families and auctioned off to cruel publishers and literary agents and bookmakers and bookbinders and bookies. And so they labored as slaves for generations and centuries, and their masters said they had the mark of Cain upon them. Actually, what they had looked more like watermarks. Otherwise, they looked pretty much like other Americans. And with every generation, the cruel slavemaster publishers & bookies raped more and more of the Librarians, and bookies and Librarians intermixed and the watermarks became very diluted indeed. But the bookies were obsessed with racial purity, and oppressed those Americans that had even the tiniest trace of Librarian in them. And the Librarians got sick of putting up with it, and that's how the plan to return to Libraria came about."

"So what you are saying is that everywhere there's a Librarian there's actually a little piece of America? And if Librarians are dying in Librarian right now, they are our countrymen? Why then we've got to get right over there and help!"

"Yeah, Laura Bush would probably say so, too. Deep in her heart she knows she's still a Librarian. You can take the girl out of the Libraria, but you can't take the Librarian out of the girl. But her husband is a different case. He doesn't believe in all books. He just believes in one. The Good Book. He figures that one book is good enough for all of us. And if we all are content with that one book, why, we don't need Librarians or Libraria or libraries at all. There's nothing to keep track of. And what's more, he knows that the Internet is making books obsolete. Why, have you been to a new library lately?"

"I have. They seem to be all computers and no books."

"So who needs Librarians when libraries have no books? A virtual Librarian can do the work of 10,000 fleshly ones. So that's why George figures he'll just keep the Marines offshore and kinda let the real Librarians kill each other off. Because they're doomed anyway. And we're overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the last time we got mixed in something like this it led to the movie Blackhawk Down. And there's no oil in Libraria, just books.

"But what about President Taylor of Libraria? He's a bad guy, isn't he? Just like Saddam? So shouldn't we just go in there and knock him off?"

"We still haven't found Saddam and bin Laden and we're supposed to be chasing after Taylor, too? He could be hiding in the Philosophy section, or in Biographies, or French Literature, or even Mathematics. He could be lurking in the nether reaches of the closed stacks or crouching under a carrel. He could be moving every 4 hours from one safe stack to another. He could be ANYwhere. Once upon a time President James Taylor was EVERYwhere, singing about Sweet Baby James and all that junk. Then he became a junkie and married Carly Simon and his hair fell out. But where is he now? You could probably find his brother Livingstone before you could find him. You could probably send a Marine expedition into darkest Libraria for years before they could so much as shake his hand and say: "Dr. Livingstone Taylor, I presume?" And even after they found him and maybe even erased him they still wouldn't have the big enchilada, President James Taylor himself. So why expend American blood and treasure on a fool's errand? And if you DID find him would you really want to hear one of his sappy songs again?"

"You Got a Friend isn't so bad."

"Maybe not the first time you heard it. But do you really want to hear it for the 10,000th time?"

"Point taken."

"Anyhow, President Bush prides himself on being a purebred, just like his Attorney General. These guys are descended from nonreaders and they pride themselves on being nonreaders themselves. They don't even read the Constitution. Just the Good Book. And the teleprompter, of course. And they TALK more about reading the Good Book than they actually read it. So that's why President Bush is just going to let all the Librarians kill each other. Then American Marines can land and set up shop."

"But without Librarians it won't really be Libraria any more."

"Exactly. The Bush Administration has other plans for all those Librarian libraries. They'll send in Halliburton to reconstruct them into big box discount houses and Walmarts and Starbucks. The whole country'll be nothing but malls. ---A consumers' paradise. We'll call it Mallaria, and the good citizens thereof Mallarians, or Mallrats for short."

"How about Walmartia? Wallmartia for the Walmartians?"

"You know something? That's got a real ring to it. How'd you like to be our new Secretary of State? The old one had a bit too much Librarian in him and will soon be quitting anyhow. He just never quite fit in."


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