Monday, June 13, 2005

Silence in the Stacks

Silence in the Stacks. This is an essay by Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Education. It is well written but it has a false assumption that not many academic librarians are blogging. A quick check of the Open Directory Project category for Library Weblogs shows that is not true.

From the site:

Some months back, one of the cable networks debuted a movie — evidently the pilot for a potential show — that inspired brief excitement in some quarters, though it seems not to have caught on. Its central character was someone whose grasp of esoteric knowledge allowed him or her (I’m not sure which, never having seen it) to command the awesome mysterious forces of the universe. Its title was The Librarian.

The program was, it seems, a reworking of a similar figure in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That’s in keeping with the fundamental law of the entertainment industry once defined by Ernie Kovacs, the great American surrealist TV pioneer: “Find something that works, then beat it to death.”

At another level, though, the whole concept derived from a tradition that is pre-television, indeed, almost pre-literate. The idea that a command of books provides access to secret forces, the equation of the scholar with the magus, was already well established before Faust and Prospero worked their spells. The linkage has also left its trace at the level of the signifier. Both glamor, originally meaning a kind of witchy sex appeal, and grimoire, the sorcerer’s reference book, derive from the word grammar — one of the foundational disciplines of medieval learning, hence a source of power.

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