burning books


We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard. ~Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764

Many of my friends commented on the fact that I burned journals so on this my last day at “the farm” while my morning pages journal from the past few years burns I thought I’d continue the conversation.

Bonfires are one ritual I practice on New Year’s Eve and when I’m leaving a place I’ve lived a long time. Sometimes I burn bad juju, bad art and sometimes letters or business I don’t want to share with recyclers.

Until this move I thought I’d save my many years of  journals for my children or grandchildren. However looking through them I realize there really isn’t much there – nothing like the drama we read in novels – “I didn’t know mother or grandmother …” fill in the blanks, and therein lies a mystery of life to be solved.

I stored some poetry journals and collage journals and a few full of notes and comments from more meaningful classes at University of Creation Spirituality and Wisdom University. I saved some journals and letters from my students in Saipan. I’m burning the required journals from my philosophy undergrad classes and a couple from early women’s studies classes – also philosophy – pseudo intellectual clap-trap with feeling.  The therapy years, the pre-divorce years and the post-divorce years aren’t worth keeping for posterity. Dream journals and morning pages were for the moment I thought as they went up in flames.

It takes effort to burn a book. While stirring these bonfires I thought a lot about book burnings and censorship efforts throughout the ages.  No matter how hot the fire it must be stirred to burn unburned pages at the bottom. As I read unburned I thought “unburdened.” “The paper burns, but the words fly away.” ~Akiba ben Joseph

I have a new journal to go with me on my pilgrimage. The last of my books are packed and most donated to the library; the repository of our history, our faith in the word, and our future as thinking humans. This weekend as I read the news from around the world including responses, or non responses, to the Occupy efforts I thought of this quote from Winston Churchill.

“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse – a little tiny mouse! – of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.”

Blessings all, Marian

About Marian Methner, B.S., D.Min.

Polydox: accepting that we are many labels, I am mother of 4, mother in law (love) of 4 and grandmother of 5. My life is a collection of bits and starts. I was recently on the road for over a year exploring ideas of living in shared housing. A recent summer course in Permaculture design, solidifed my interest in "social permaculture" or ways we interact not only with our Earthly environment but also with each other. I am back Bellingham, Washington, in a small rental house, owned by my ex husband, talk about shared housing, practicing living in community with family, and friends. My doctoral dissertation A Map to Living Open Heartedly, centers around making art as a way to healing. Paradoxiclly, a recent diagnoses of heart failure (cardiomyopathy) expands this exploration...
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2 Responses to burning books

  1. When I was much younger, I was quite flip and even cocky when teaching journal writing classes and participants would share their fears about their journals outliving them, but now that I am a woman of a certain age, I am not quite as sure about what I want to do with all my words on all those pages. I appreciate your thoughtful evaluation of what to keep and what not to keep– guidance for this part of the journey.

  2. Krystal says:

    This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.

    Short but very precise information… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

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