© 2009 Lynsey

026 – Revolutionary acts

When your subversion avoids being elitist, then you are truly a revolutionary.Martin Blythe

One of our bookcases. Behind each book there’s another book – not in a author development kind of way, there’s actually another book. We’ve got lots of books.

Last year I took part in a campaign I called ‘My Year of Reading Dangerously’. The objective was to read a book a month that was a) available online, and b) had been banned at some stage. Not being the world’s best fiction reader I petered out after about four or five – I had other demands on my time. With one exception I couldn’t see what was so bad about the books that would lead them into question. That is until I thought about how the writings could inspire people to change their thoughts and start to pursue a path that would lead them towards choices that the State or Church didn’t approve of.

In Fahrenheit 451, (Ray Bradbury) the State has banned books, and firemen go about burning books – any and all. Part of the charm and power of the story is the society is not unlike ours – trivia is good, deep knowledge is bad. Oh, we’re nothing like this? “Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs … Don’t give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.” — Fire Captain Beatty. Sure. No TV contests like that here.

Losing our freedom, our right to read what, where, and when we like is not something most people consider on a daily basis. I think we understand it can happen in places with restrictive regimes, obscure third world places, those kind of governments – we wouldn’t imagine it happening in countries that have a long and liberal tradition of valuing learning.

I’m spending time here writing each day, about a freshly gathered photograph. I expect that my rights to go and make the photos in public places would be unquestioned, and, assuming that I wasn’t being a nuisance or trespassing, that the act of taking a photo – a la tourist – would not invoke police intervention. Sure, military bases etc are likely to be sensitive, however for the most part I would’ve thought that the act of making general tourist type shots was something of an acceptable norm in most countries, particularly those places that we think of as tourist destinations. Places with a reputation for tradition of higher learning. Say – London. The UK.

If I thought that, I would be wrong. In the UK, “photography is under attack. Across the country it seems that anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer.” The Photographer NOT Terrorist campaign has been launched to curb police abuse of their powers when dealing with photographers. If you think this is just about the reining in the hordes of predatory paparazzi, you’d be wrong too. A grandfather, with his grandson, arrested for taking photos of a bus station? In the UK? You’ve got to be kidding.

In the 1930s, the people of Germany, hardly realised that their freedoms were being eroded until one day they woke up to find they had no freedoms left at all. The parallel in Britain today are horribly similar.Philip Dunn

06. Every day you make choices.
23. Every day retain your personal power. It belongs to you. No one else.
41. Every day use your mind. It is the greatest technology ever created.

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