Back in the days when postmodernism was almost new and you could still get a good riot at a political party convention, Jorge Luis Borges wrote, “In a modest, silent way, by arranging books on shelves, we ply the critic’s art.” Today, we have all the same literary experiences that previous generations enjoyed, but we do them harder, faster and longer — and perhaps with less silence and modesty, to boot. Most obviously, we “shelve” music and video with the same ease that Borges’ contemporaries arranged books. In our immodest, noisy way, we’ve all been music critics since about 1999.
Even before Napster and the MP3, we made mix tapes; long before multi-gigabyte hard drives, we had the drawer full of VHS cassettes. It’s just gotten easier, more global and more slick. More now, and less TwenCen.
Concomitant with all this has been another change. When, in the early years of the Barnes-and-Borders-a-Million, idle teenagers would move William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch (1959) to the “summer reading” section — because there was nothing else to do in Huntsville, Alabama — we (I mean, they) didn’t put up weblogs about the experience.
Enter Biologists Helping Bookstores, a site operated by a man with a mission. Specifically,
It is my mission to correctly re-shelve books to the appropriate section of the bookstore.
For example, “Darwin’s Black Box”, the famous pseudo-science book by the non-evolutionary non-scientist Michael Behe, should not be in the “Evolutionary Biology” section, but something more appropriate, such as “New Age”, “Religion”, “Christianity”, or even “Fiction”. You get the idea.
Inquiring minds want to know. Inquiring minds also want pictures.
(Tip o’ the shifty anarchist’s slouch hat to Retrospectacle.)