Friday, March 10, 2006

Homo Digitalus

I've been a little remiss in my blogging duties this week. No, I haven't caught spring fever (although I would like to). With deadlines approaching in the next few weeks, my library class has gotten busier and I've actually been scribbling some fiction lately. I was flipping through some of my old journals on Wednesday and came across two very random ideas I decided to mash together. One is a zombie story, and is mostly about a guy who lives in a city populated mostly by zombies and how he gets through life pretending to be dead. The other is a meta-art piece. It may or may not work, because I really have no idea where it's going. But I'm having fun with it.

We had a guest speaker in library class this week. He used to teach in the program at Pitt, and he came to us to lecture about ethics and how it relates to librarians. The oddest part, at least for me, was that he's also a Catholic Priest. I did not grow up Catholic, so I expected long, drawn out quotes from the Bible and esoteric sermoning on following a particular path. But instead he quoted Rilke, Shopenhauer and Plato and talked about learning to question the ethics behind every decision we make and following a path that lines up with our own personal ethics. He talked very openly about his own opinions of the Catholic Church, telling us quite freely what he agreed with and did not, but still stayed with the church for the greater good he feels it provides. He was quite engaging, very interesting, and very challenging.

Towards the end of his lecture he told us we would have to decide for ourselves if we "really have the stuff" to work as librarians. When you think about the common perception of librarian---an uptight, older woman running around shushing everyone---it might seem a little silly. But when you consider being a librarian may mean standing up to a extremely religious mother and explaining why you stock Harry Potter even though it features witches and wizards, or standing up to a left-sided liberal and explaining why you stock the latest Anne Coulter diatribe it might give you pause. I think, I hope, I would have the nerve to do so because freedom of info is so much at the core of my beliefs.

After a time, the lecture moved on to some of his theories on the future of libraries and, even odder, to some ideas on the evolution of man. We discussed how electronic media, particularly the internet, is drastically changing the way we think and that it may be moving us to another higher level of thought. He dubbed this potential level homo digitalus and said he was still developing a theory behind it. The ideas reminded me quite a bit of some of the theories Rudy Rucker and Timothy Leary touted in the early 90's. Towards the end of his life Leary was embracing electronic technology and its potential for change in the same way he embraced chemicals in the 60's and 70's. Interesting stuff. I asked our guest after class if he had read them, and he hadn't. There aren't many people at all I can think of who would consider reading Rucker or Leary, but the fact that a Catholic Priest might read their works I find a little mindblowing. This particular priest, though, seems more than open to new ideas. I hope I can be when I get to his age.

I'm working on a small handful of reviews, and will be getting those up one at a time over the next few days.


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