06 February 2007

Danger, Will Robinson

Part of the pleasure I take in being a librarian, a cataloger, is that I get to handle almost every new book that comes into the library. Today, I cataloged The enemy at home: the cultural left and its responsibility for 9/11 by Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza has been on many political talk shows, promoting his book, for the last week or two; Book TV gave him 3 hours last Sunday (which I missed) to discuss his ideas. (Ok, Bill O'Reilly, let's hear how the liberal media suppress conservatives.)

My practice, when I catalog a book, is to give it a thorough scan. I want patrons to find the book easily, and I'm liberal (ahem) about adding subject headings to the catalog if I think patrons need more access than the Library of Congress allots.

Although (actually, since) I think that the central idea of this book is preposterous, I gave it a lot of attention. I'll skip the political and cultural absurdities, such as his contention that "the right of mothers to have careers" is a product of "the liberal assault against family values in traditional cultures." If I argued every one of these points -- well, let's just say that I'm damn sick of arguing these points.

However... I can't let this one go:

"Pressured by Philistines, ignorant prosecutors brought obscenity charges against works like James Joyce's Ulysses, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, and D. H Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover. These are not works of equivalent value: Lawrence, for example, is markedly inferior to Joyce and Flaubert, and literary culture would not suffer greatly if any of his books had been suppressed."

Ok. Discuss. And congratulate me - I managed to keep myself from making up a subject heading that would assist patrons like myself if they were searching the catalog, although "Delusional punditry" almost was too good to pass up. I'll have to wait for the Library of Congress for that one.


Bridget said...

Sorry, but I think the heading would be "Punditry, Delusional" (May Subd Geo) ... ;-)

I sure hope your library doesn't have that evil Harry Potter book, because it's turning our youth to witchcraft and such, which of of course wouldn't have happened if more women did not work outside the home.


Stephanie said...

And this guy's qualifications for even speaking about literature are what exactly?

He probably doesn't like Lawrence because (from what I remember of my reading of Lady Chatterley's Lover) the woman in that novel was dissatisfied with the lame sex she was getting and started insisting on her right to have orgasms too.

Golly, next thing you know these crazy females might want the right to vote or something!

teabird17 said...

Oh, Bridget, what was I thinking? You are quite right. Otherwise, the other punditry headings would not be alphabetized together. You know, like "Punditry (alien space invaders) or Punditry (evil cultural relativism). And you know how that one would be subdivided!

Anna Ault said...

"punditry, delusional" is great! I know now what genre that Coulter woman writes. *lol*

Since when does literary merit have anything to do with obscenity? Granted, most pornographic writing lacks literary merit -- but it is not a matter of causation, or even correlation -- lots of non-pornographic writing lacks literary merit too. Just look at anything by RA Salvatore.

Is he saying that sufficient literary merit makes obscenity acceptable? And if that is what he is saying, is that what he means to be saying? Because that doesn't sound like an argument that would go over well with most conservative types.

Jennifer said...

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Holly said...

Hooray! You speak the truth, dear Librarian! I would just write a little note on a piece of scrap paper that says "Political Punditry, delusional and mysogynistic" and just place it in the book like a bookmarker before shelving it.

Carrie K said...

I did watch him and he wasn't quite as whacked as he sounds on paper. He presented his ideas more as a counter argument, not the Last Word on the subject.

I tend to be fine with anyone who doesn't shut out other side's opinions/views down and has a reasonably rational argument. Also, one who does not have to shout over the other to make their point. I cannot abide that.

Norma said...

From browsing my public library catalog, I thought "real" librarians didn't catalog anymore. Glad to know there is someone out there taking a thorough look and assigning good headings.

My first job in L.S. was as a cataloger and I think it was the most valuable experience one can have. It set the ground work for all my future work in bibliography and reference.

Your public is in no danger from this title. Librarians are 223:1 liberal to conservative, and so most of the books we can get at the library reflect that.