part of the ongoing series summer library
November 13, 2021
4:30pm - until the fire is out
and, join us earlier, at 3:30pm, for a performance of
See full details about the Summer Library 2021 project, including other Librarians' work, here. The next iteration of this project, the Winter Library, is here.
Details from L. Florence's Anti-Anthropocene Compost, part of her Librarianship.
The Anti-Anthropocene Bonfire Book-burning
In connection with Laura Florence's librarianship, she invites our other Summer Librarians, as well as you, the public, to join us in November, for a return, and a closing.
A coda to her library, this event also serves as a closing reception for the Summer Library project, and a gathering for considering together our relationships to books and libraries, literal, figurative, and unknown. Laura writes:
Fire is a sacred element. It can purify, transport, and transform. It changes to ash and ash in turn nourishes the Earth. It offers warmth and light, it invites enchantment, calls together community and draws us into natural ceremony.
The Anti-Anthropocene Bonfire book-burning explores burning as an act of celebration, reclamation, and lovingly returning to Earth the materials that were extracted in the making of books.
Books are human-made objects—both in their numinous use of words to describe the world and create new realities and in their physical form as paper products. They are often cherished for their meaningful contents, for their ability to transport, enlighten, enliven, expand our ways of understanding and to prompt us to think, imagine, wonder, expand. They connect us, define us, embellish us, support us, confirm us.
This book-burning also proffers opportunity to purge the world of texts that promote hate and injury. It attempts to change by the alchemical force of fire the vile into the pure. This book-burning acknowledges the many instances book-burning has been used as a tool throughout history and contemporarily for cultural, intellectual, spiritual harm. It is a true wish that this book-burning can refute to some degree such acts of violence.
Books are manufactured objects that require large quantity of paper (trees), chemicals, water, petroleum, electricity to produce. Shipping them to us (the book store, the library, the front door) requires further consumption of fuels, metals, plastics, electricity, cardboard (more trees). Once acquired, we are faced at some point with how to respectfully dispose of them. They will arrive at someone’s feet, given over to someone else’s responsibility. They are the battered, moldy, out-of-date books, tired classics, required assigned school books, the pulp-fiction, the water-stained cookbooks, the yellowed home-repair manuals, the bulky textbooks, and the many, many, many encyclopedias—all deserve a finer send off than the landfill where they will almost never disintegrate.
The Anti-Anthropocene Bonfire is an opportunity to release and relinquish the gifts we have been given, held as precious and are ready to return to Earth. Books, words, thoughts, facts and figures, pains and pleasures, memories and wishes…all are invited to bring to the fire what you wish to gift back to the fire as the final incarnation and incantation of the incendiery Summer Library (library being ultimately the holder, keeper, organizer of what we hold to be meaningful and worthy).