A literary critic came to my store looking for red pens. He had papers to paint. I told him to go easy on his subjects. He laughed, “That isn’t what they pay me for.” Our conversation didn’t go further than that but in my mind it still continues as I attempt to widen my understanding of the world and universe. Finding meaning where I would be foolish not to look.
I imagine asking him questions. Asking his thoughts, he is not perfect. He is surprisingly stereotypical, as he believes fallacies and british stereo-thoughts of Americans that I hadn’t considered with any seriousness. I tell him a story:
“Watching the second episode of the new series of Sherlock Holmes on BBC, I experienced culture shock. There were two murdered men. The only connection between them, regular trips to China. Spies, smugglers, assassins, bad eggs, or adicts so many possibilities for the true nature of their overseas exploits.
“The connection could be a book. Sherlock orders all the books of both men to be taken in as evidence. I think, this should be easy. A quick waltz through the apartments and books and they will spot a familiar spine and go on with the mystery. However, what I thought would be an easy bridge was a block for the story. Both men had hundreds of books. Boxes were piled into the London flat.
“I recall thinking. No one has that many books. The rare collector or a friend of a generous grandmother. I wondered why Sherlock didn’t see the fantastic amount of books as being a clue. Why do they look at this like it was expected?”
It was expected. Everyone has a lot of books in England. My new imaginary friend explains. Reading and having a personal library is normal. It is how they tanginablize their intelligence. It is why the Britain’s think Americans are stupid and we are superior thinkers.
Self Worth, I corrected the combined thoughts. British people think of their self worth in books and thinking. The casual observation of things but the keeping of books is a cultural imposed measuring stick left by a bygone era where print was rare and for the rich and intelligent, in a feudal thinking society where the top had to be the smartest.
In America literacy has long been considered a goal for childhood and never had that history. We measure our Self Worth in other ways. We see our intelligence in dollars and jealousy.
Hunter S. Thompson called this the first post-American Century in two thousand and three. I don’t think this is bad. He meant it as being negative but he also thought the country would collapse in seventy-seven. The internet, fast improving travel, and globalization will catch us all by surprise but only if we let it. When thinking of people stereotypes and conventional dogma are not to be believed. The number of books does not make any person dumb or ill informed, maybe ill informed. The same way I suspect a customer of being stuffy and high minded. I am probably wrong but I will continue to form my imaginary friend. He will grow and I should too.