Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hallowe'en Decorations, Books, and Rev. Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's - All Together in One Swell Foop!

In less than a week and a half, Hallowe’en will be upon us.

Mrs. Blogger will celebrate the annual return of industrial-sized bags of candy corn to the supermarket shelves and yours truly will be all a-goggle at the new crop of inflatable Hallowe’en lawn ornaments that populate the private manicured green spaces called “lawns” in local suburbias.   Frankly, as a confirmed and probably certifiable lover of both kitsch and bargains, it’s hard to resist (at only $179.95) the seven-foot animated inflatable skeleton that plays the pipe organ.  Yes, exactly!  A Pipe Organ!!!  Like Lon Chaney in "Phantom of the Opera!!!"

C’mon; you KNOW you want one!  Just follow the link here to admire it and perhaps to order one for yourself.   

Of course, Hallowe’en isn’t generally much of a genealogy or book holiday.  

At least that’s what I thought until a few days ago.  But then, I stumbled upon a website that dealt with the age-old question I’ve been pondering here for a week or so.

The Big Question: What to do with all the books that nobody really wants anymore?

After all, in spite of being the unrepentant “bookie” that I am, I’m still a realist. You can’t save everything.  There’s only so much shelf space. Eventually, some stuff has to go. And if truth were to be told, there’s a lot of stuff (book-wise) that should never have existed in the first place.

(Take no personal offense, Danielle Steele…)

Sooner or later, excess books can become a problem, for both libraries and “private-sector” owners.

As I said, you can’t save everything, at least not in book form.  So, what’s the solution – if, in fact, there is one?

Welcome to the world of the Crafting Mom.  It is, of course an online world of wonder for the Mom Who Does Crafts.

Who would have thought that the solution to the world-wide “book backlog” problem could be simply solved by a crafting mom with a razor-sharp Exacto knife and a bucket of paint?

Frankly, the holiday possibilities are endless.  Why stop at Hallowe’en?  Other holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving - are now all fair game as book-recycling holidays.  The only limits are the crafting imagination, which, I am led to believe, knows no bounds.

Anyway, I know you’re intrigued by all this hype; so here’s the simplest of solutions.  Check out the website and wonder why this has not become some sort of national biblio-recycling policy.
Rev. Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745)
For some reason (and no doubt one that reflects the perverse nature of my own mental processes), this immediately caused me to think of one of my all-time favorite works in English dealing with recycling:  the Rev. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”. 

Swift (1667 – 1745), the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and one of the greatest writers in English, is probably best known for his classic “Gulliver’s Travels.”  Nonetheless, “A Modest Proposal” is a fine example of social commentary written by one of the truly great masters of satire. 

Before writing this pamphlet and releasing it in 1729, Dean Swift thought long and hard about one of the pressing social problems of his time:  the widespread problem of poverty in early 18th century Ireland and the “excess population” of Irish children – children who were mostly the offspring of impoverished Irish Catholic families. 

As a descendant of some of the very-same children the Dean was writing about, I immediately saw the genealogical implications of Swift’s “solution” when I first read “A Modest Proposal” at university a long, long time ago.

What to do, what to do, thought the Dean?  Lots of Loony-Tunes ideas were being floated about in both Ireland and England by folks with pretty shallow thought processes.  The Dean figured that since nothing quite succeeds like excess, he'd pile on with a "why haven't we thought of this before???" solution of his own.

 If you haven’t read “A Modest Proposal” in a long time, here’s the link to an online version at Project Gutenberg

Remember as you read it – Jonathan Swift was perhaps the most gifted satirist of his (or, for that matter, any) time.   “A Modest Proposal” is a fine example of what a great artist can do with a serious question if he sets his mind to it and at the same time plants his tongue firmly in his cheek.  Solutions to complex problems are not always “9-9-9” simple, obvious or practical, no matter how “interesting” they may first appear. 

And sometimes, absolutely inane ideas can sound positively reasonable in the right set of circumstances.   

The more “sane-sounding” inane solutions appear to be, the more insane the times.

Imagine what the Dean might suggest could be done with all the excess books in the world.  He’d likely put the Crafting Moms to shame with his solutions.

Cherub Kitsch or Great Art?
Oh, and I wasn’t kidding about loving kitsch-y things:  Here’s a pic of one of the “presents” I got folks several Christmases ago.  I just hadda keep one for myself, perhaps as a collectible “inflation hedge” in the event of hard economic times.  

I understand art collectors will likely pay big money for fine ceramics like this…

At least - - - I live in hope ...

1 comment:

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