Margaret Morse on Thu, 24 Feb 2011 06:17:18 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> How a Library Saved My Life.

Dear Marc and Goran,
Thanks for your moving posts.  Marc, your story reminded me of my  
childhood.  Poverty in a remote and economically depressed area in the  
US was actually not the worst of it; it was rather being terrorized in  
every aspect of life, from the cold war (and the atom bomb) as I  
experienced it at school and in the community, as well as in a family  
dominated by a man formed by a cruel Victorian father, hoboing in the  
depression and suffering traumatizing events during WWII.  What was  
hardest for me to bear was  the violent, narrow and loveless  
conceptual world of a right winger.

What helped me survive this bleak emotional and cultural life was not  
the other adults around me or, regretfully, other children, or having  
wonderful ocnversations at the library like the ones you experienced,  
but rather through voracious reading of books that convey emotions and  
values that I couldn't experience in the physical world around me. I  
found books in the garage and the attic, but most of them were in the  
local Carnegie Library.  (It is ironic that the rapacious Carnegie  
didn't employ compassion for humanity in his business methods so as to  
distribute his wealth more evenly throughout his life.)   I am sure  
that at its best, parts of the internet function as you suggest, Marc,  
like a library, offering conversation with other realms of experience  
that can "save our lives."

As far as Goran's story of predatory lending in the student loan  
program, it really breaks my heart that  those who take advantage of  
and exploit people in abject poverty, eg the grameen bank in a profit  
making mode, think it is not only legal, it is their right.  I am  
sorry that Goran's education was bought at too great a cost--a student  
loan as terrifying nightmare.  However, I think it is short sighted to  
draw the conclusion that there hasn't been and thus will not be any  
change at all.  You ask, why can't we change things?  Learning that in  
possible or other worlds, things aren't or don't have to be this way  
has intrinsic value.  It is learning that encourages change, but it  
also takes ongoing action.  I thank the part of American society that  
struggles every day  to defend the rights we have already attained  
that are now threatened and that works to realize specific and new  
kinds of rights and practices, including the most difficult and  
crucial task of saving the natural world.  As your story, Marc,  
cautions, this learning shouldn't be equated with a formal education,  
though education is the place where we structurally really ought to be  
accorded this chance.  So sorry if this is screed-like.

Margaret Morse

On Feb 23, 2011, at 4:01 PM, marc garrett wrote:

> Thinking back to the harsh times of my early years in contrast to  where
> I am now, I owe much of my current state of being to that Library in
> Southend on Sea. What will become of those other young souls who will not
> have the choice themselves to experience alternative avenues out  of the
> systemic limits of imposed poverty? The Internet is an extension  to
> libraries not its replacement. Education and knowledge is a varied and
> wonderful thing. Once taken away, we are less empowered, more likely  to
> conform to the whims of others who do not have our best interests in
> mind.

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