Sunday, 27 January 2013

Everything In It's Right Place

There's a saying that "Britain is a nation of shopkeepers". Well, I don't know about that any more but it dawned on me last week that "Earth is a planet of librarians" for it seems to me the natural inclination of everyone is to sort everything they come into contact with into the relevant section of the library that is their memory.
Doing so helps us make some kind of order out of the chaos that is all around us. This, in turn, leaves time to enjoy something of our lives without having to constantly work out who or what everything is every time we want to do anything.
But I find it interesting how we classify things.
For instance, if we believe the movies, people who are creepy, untrustworthy or just plain sinister look something like a young Michael Caine and, yet, it never stopped the real Michael Caine being a leading man and heart-throb!
And isn't it interesting how we're far more willing to re-classify good people as bad rather than re-classify bad people as good!
Also - as in the case of Jimmy Saville - the death of a person does not necessarily mean that their story has been told and that we won't have to re-classify them at some point in the future.
So we're finding we constantly have to re-order our libraries/memories which is just plain... annoying!!
If we have to move the book marked "Lance Armstrong", for example, from the shelf marked "Biography" to the shelf marked "Fiction" (as one Australian library joked that they would) then what does this mean for the other books in our library? Will they all have to be moved as well?!!
Then, sometimes, finding the book to re-shelve can be problematic in itself! In the case of a trans person, for example, the book may very well not just have a different title but a completely different cover as well!
Isn't it just far easier to leave things as they are - even if they are wrongly filed - than repeatedly having to go to the bother of re-ordering things about and run the risk of everything descending into chaos as every book keeps getting moved around! It'd certainly be far less time consuming!
So I can quite understand people's reluctance to constantly re-ordering their library/memory (and the evidence of this understanding is the chaos that is my house!).
Some people complain, some refuse, and then there are some who are only too willing to re-order their library... by thinking the worst of someone! (e.g. a daughter may find themselves disowned when they come out as a lesbian)
And what can you say about such a person who is so willing to think ill of someone?
Are they worthy of our respect?
Are they worthy of our sympathy?
Are they worthy of our hatred even?
Decide and classify.  
This is what we do on this planet of librarians and why, whatever the actual words used are, the complaint you'll most often hear as a minority (LGBT, black, muslim, Pole, etc, etc...), from friend and foe alike, is "Stop messing up my filing system!".