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“Since the invention of the cuneiform system of writing in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE and of hieroglyphics in Egypt around 3150 BCE, the serious reader of texts has enjoyed cultural acclamation,” writes Frank Furedi in Aeon."In Roman times, starting in the second century BCE, books were brought down from heaven to earth, where they served…

Bookish Fools

image“Since the invention of the cuneiform system of writing in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE and of hieroglyphics in Egypt around 3150 BCE, the serious reader of texts has enjoyed cultural acclamation,” writes Frank Furedi in Aeon."In Roman times, starting in the second century BCE, books were brought down from heaven to earth, where they served as luxury goods that endowed their wealthy owners with cultural prestige. The Roman philosopher Seneca, who lived in the first century, directed his sarcasm at the fetish for grandiose display of texts, complaining that ‘many people without a school education use books not as tools for study but as decorations for the dining room’. Of the flamboyant collector of scrolls, he wrote that ‘you can see the complete works of orators and historians on shelves up to the ceiling, because like bathrooms, a library has become an essential ornament of a rich house’.”

Owning books is not about the appearance of sophistication. Nevertheless, bookish fools exist. Furedi asks, “Is book ownership still a sign of public cultural distinction in the digital age? It’s not the performance, and not the optics that really matter, but the experience of the journey to the unknown.”

Posted by Joel on November 11 2016 • Books