Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Banning Books, an American Tradition

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

 Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants

   It would appear that I’m the kind of guy who, when visiting a book store (remember book stores?), headed straight to the banned book section and got comfortable. (Remember how comfortable.book stores could be?)

     I do not make this confession arbitrarily or boldly, but rather matter-of-factly. Also a bit surprisingly. Until recently, I had no idea that I was such a fan of banned books, Then, Banned Book Week showed up on Facebook and other social media and I started looking at the various lists of books that have been banned or challenged, as the American Library Association puts it.

       I’m a few days late to mark the annual reminder of the importance of freedom of expression, but in a time when voices of protest and outrage are being stifled, I figure any day one can promote the free expression of ideas is a good one. So, my list, in no particular order, compiled from a few lists found on the Internet:

        — The Catcher in the Rye

        — To Kill a Mockingbird

        — The Lord of the Flies

,       — 1984

        — Lolita

        — Catch 22

        — Brave New World

        — Animal Farm

        — The Sun Also Rises

        — Invisible Man

        — Howl

        — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

        — Slaughterhouse Five

        — In Cold Blood

        — Rabbit, Run

        — Moby Dick

        — Canterbury Tales

        — Captain Underpants

        — The Kite Runner

        — The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

        —.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

        — Fahrenheit 451

        — Moll Flanders

     I’d be interested in hearing what banned books are on your list so I can add to mine. And I know some of you are voracious readers. So please contribute.

     I’m writing about this because we are living in a time when reading, indeed, learning of any sort is under attack by forces — Republicans, Evangelicals if you want to be specific — who seek to maintain power by discrediting education of any kind. “East Coast Elites” is supposedly an insult. Higher education, Republicans believe, is a threat to America, a survey tells us. We hear claims of fake news and hoaxes and Fox News is full of outright lies. It’s all nonsense, created and disseminated out of fear. Fear of others, of the unknown, of feeling inferior, of discovering that long-held beliefs were simply not true.

      Education is the answer, but our education system — already challenged with adjusting to distance-learning because of Covid — has a lot of work to do to repair the damage done in recent years. Encouraging reading is a good place to start. Even in Covid America, books are available as never before online. Some free. I read “Slaughterhouse Five” and reread “1984” on Kindle. Seemed appropriate. And there’s plenty of time to read. 

       The American Library Association began Banned Books Week in 1982 in response to increased challenges to books in libraries, schools and other public places. Its stated aim is “to celebrate the freedom to read and to promote silenced voices.”

      Reasons why books have been banned or challenged include: LGBTQ content, sexually explicit language, profanity, racism, violence, religious viewpoint, sex education, suicide, drug and alcohol use, nudity, political viewpoint and offensive language, Sounds like a shopping list for Republican politicians. It also sounds a lot like life and one person’s “offensive language“ is another person’s truth.

       The decision on whether any book is appropriate for a child or a teenager theoretically belongs to the parents. I say theoretically because some parents don’t get too involved in such things. My parents were not book readers, although my mother devoured at least four newspapers every day. I don’t remember them expressing an interest one way or another in what I was reading. I guess that’s a decision by default. They trusted me and my teachers. I think it eventually worked out fine for me.

       Other parents, however, are extremely interested in what their children are consuming. That can be a good thing, I think, if it allows for a variety of viewpoints and room to explore. By the way, Captain Underpants is on my list because I have two sons, now grown. I also think a couple of my books were high school reading assignments for one of my sons. Kudos to the teacher.

        Anyway, in a country in which clearly anyone can grow up to be president, I think it would be a good thing if he or she had actually read a book or two, including some that challenged his or her beliefs. But maybe that’s just the Orwell, Vonnegut and Salinger in me.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

 

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 9/19/2014

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Rooster No. 5

Rooster No. 5

By Carrie Jacobson

I was emailing a friend who is also an artist and a collector of my paintings, and she wrote about how scary it is to make a painting for someone. For anyone, really. They might not like it, it might not look like the person/dog/scene that the buyer was picturing, the buyer might think you’re a talentless hack…. and on and on.

I confessed that I’m scared pretty much all the time. As I drive up to a show, and especially to a new show, I am often literally shaking. I’m afraid that the people at the show, buyers and artists, are going to look at my paintings and see right off the bat that I am self-taught, that I don’t know the rules, that I’m a messy painter, that I can’t draw, and on and on and on.

But I told her that I just get a hold of myself, pull myself together, and go on and do it. Be scared, sure – but do it. We are all scared – or at least, I suspect we all are.

After I wrote this to her, I went to the home page of the Piedmont Plein Air Paintout, that I’m participating in this week. I started looking at the paintings by the participating artists  – and totally freaked out again. Sigh.

I left the site, got a handle on my fear and paranoia, and went back to the site later in the day. When I looked again, I could see clearly that my paintings do stand up next to everyone else’s – and after all, I was chosen to participate! That should be enough to quiet the fears, right?

I’m sharing all of this not so you all will tell me that I’m a good painter, etc. I’m sharing it because so many people tell me all the time how frightened they are – of painting, of trying to paint, of applying to shows, of thinking of quitting their jobs to follow their dreams. People tell me how brave I am – and I just wanted to share that, really, I am not brave. I am scared and hesitant, but I go ahead and do it anyways. And anyone can do this. It doesn’t take not being afraid. It takes not letting your fear paralyze you.