Monday, July 18, 2011

Borders Bookstores: Murdered!

I expect to actually mourn the loss of Borders. For me, it’s like losing a long-time neighbor with whom you had always exchanged pleasant greetings, and whom you assumed you would have ample opportunity to get to know better. It’s also kind of like practically everyone else in my neighborhood inattentively pitched burning trash into his yard until he died of smoke inhalation. That assessment might suggest to you that I’m in the anger phase.

I don’t think I’m going to go through all the stages of the Kubler-Ross model. I’m at a stage of my life wherein I can’t imagine myself entertaining all five of those responses to any personal loss of tragedy, whether it’s the death of a loved one or the closure of a media store in which I wish I’d had the chance to spend more time. There are only two alternatives for me right now, and I kind of like it that way. That which I cannot accept makes me angry, and I’ll remain angry as long as my spirit will allow. I have too strong an ideological commitment to the notion of remaining vigilantly aware of what I consider to be wrong to ever allow myself the indulgence of denial. I’m too proud and solitary to see the appeal of bargaining. And depression… well sure, most things can depress me, but that and anger are almost never mutually exclusive.

I’m going to stay angry about this until people seem to widely understand what we’re losing, and how culpable they are for it. Every literate person with an e-book reader is complicit in the murder both of small bookstores and the big-box retailers like the dearly departed Borders. I am and will remain angry at everyone whose obsession with the latest gadgets and status symbols overrides their perception of benefit in having community spaces where people who appreciate the same things can appreciate them in kind, and where people can actively discover new ideas.

I’m terrified that someday there won’t be anywhere left for me to go to leaf through the pages of a book with an interesting title, attractive cover, and appropriate thickness, or to run my finger over a chosen shelf to find a topic at random. Why does no one else seem angry about this? Why is there no public sense that gaining in convenience can bring about the loss of something else that’s equally or more desirable?

I’m losing a neighbor that I really wanted to know better, for love of the few splendid memories we have. He’s been killed now by so many misguided hands, and wounded in so many places. Most everywhere I’ve travelled there’s been a Borders bookstore, and now it will be torn from the entire landscape of the country, wounded in every place by people who wield their e-book readers like knives concealed in cowardice beneath the robes they wear for a ceremony of shallow literacy.

I cannot accept plots to murder the printed word in sacred space, so I mourn in anger against these conspirators.

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