Biblioclasm or book destruction is the technical term for burning books, magazines, and words put down on paper in various forms. Any student of history will remember the past and infamous book burnings. We were taught in school that the Dark Ages in Europe was an era that was fraught with religious censorship. Any literature work that did not stand up to the strict religious code of the day was burned. Throughout time in several countries around the world, books, magazines, and other works have been burned as well.
Some of the greatest works in history have been destroyed and lost forever because of a zealous government or religion order of the day. As in the Dark Ages, the culture and essence of an entire span in time was obliterated leaving a dark and gloomy legacy for future generations to come.
The legacy of the library of Alexandria, obliterated, lost forever. It is said that Demitrius of Phaleron, a student Aristotle of third century B.C, organized the library. It contained literary works from far beyond its local borders. This library containing the ancient books and scrolls was attached at least four times before finally being destroyed.
In China’s Qin Dynasty circa 221 B.C – 206 B.C. not only did the ruling class burn the literary works under this political regime, it burned the scholars at the stakes who wrote them.
Moving to more recent history, over 20 thousand books were burned in Nazi Germany, such works from “Freud, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Jack London, H.G. Wells,” were targeted, all in the attempt to quash free thought.
There was a ceremonial comic book burning to eradicate this form of literature in Spenser West Virginia, and Binghampton, New York, in 1948.
In 1989, in Brantford, England the public burning of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie took place in an effort to appease the Muslim world community.
The Harry Potter series, of modern times has gone through the ceremonial book burning on the lawn of Landover Baptist Church in 2007.
Censorship exists and is still in force in countries where political regimes dictate that certain types of free speech cannot filter through from foreign countries or even by the literary minds of their own people.
Books, magazines, music and are censored everyday here in our churches, synagogues mosques, schools and cultural centers. This metaphorical book burning is not about to end soon.
When we look at more recent times in the history we see culture being destroyed by the ceremonious burnings, torching and shredding of books, magazines, journals, records, cd’s, paintings and more.
Books, magazines, artworks, music, all make up the cultural heritage of who we are as a people on this earth. It is an important heritage for those yet to come, a symbol of the human spirit and zest for life in all its forms and incarnations.
Must this practice continue, is there not room for all kinds of thought in today’s world? In the age that we live in, there are selective havens for different works, the pious religious have their bookstores and locales for works of their choice, and the followers of Wicca have theirs. Right wing and left political factions have their following and their selective niche. Popular and underground music will continue to find a way to continue that form of culture, whether everyone in society agrees or not. The trick to live by is to be selective in what we view but not to obliterate what we do not believe in.