Saturday, 4 May 2013

Dogs Delight 12 No books

My task is far harder than I imagined. 

In the last few months the library has changed immensely.  There is now a large U-shaped reception desk in the middle, with two librarians working at screens behind it.  The old photocopier has gone and at the far end of the room is a whole new computer suite, where three boys are clicking dementedly through websites.  The boys remind me of my sons stabbing impatiently at their computer games, which Richard and his mother interpret as a mark of their intelligence.  The new bookshelves are arranged in very wide aisles.  These improvements mean there are far fewer books.

Where do I begin? 

I imagine myself asking one of the librarians to help me find a book which will tell me how to leave my family.  After she has stared and controlled her expression she will probably direct me to the new self-help section along the back wall.  I wander slowly along it, but the books are about advancement at work or how to lose a stammer or create creative children.

I pass by Crime and the serried large-type Romances and the Quick Selection.  All these books depress me: we are living in a new Dark Age.  The real books are going, disappearing into archives, just as the old knowledge retreated to dusty shelves in monasteries which kept the small light burning, an oil brazier beneath a gothic window.  I cannot find any real books, except for a few novels which do not speak to me.  And whole sections of the shelving are adapted for music and film.

Health and Fitness; Cookery; Religion.  I move away, then step back.  I pick up a book by C S Lewis* and open it and read: ‘If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.’