New Year’s Eve is a time of new beginnings, and if I hear that again, I'm going to take a hostage.
In keeping with the spirit of second chances, starting anew and letting go of old baggage, the organisers of New Year’s Eve in Times Square tourist trap are baiting the public to say goodbye, once and for all, to those bad memories of 2007.
For tomorrow is the first annual, “GOOD RIDDANCE DAY”; a chance to, literally, incinerate your bad memories into a giant bonfire. Umm...
Here's their pitch:
Oh, how cool. Like the early christian converts at Ephesus torched the Sorcery scrolls? The writings of Priscillian and the repeated destruction of Alexandria libraries? Sorta like Anthony Comstock's New York Society for the “Suppression of Vice” back in the day! How fabulously Joseph McCarthy! How utterly Adolf, and there for Will Smith! Will Salman Rushdie be there?
“We’re inviting New Yorkers and visitors from around the world to join us in mashing a year’s worth of bad hairstyles, loathed music, fashion disasters and ill-fated romances into an unrecognizable pulp of bad karma and negative vibes – which will then be carted off, never to be seen again.”
God, do you know how much awful poetry there'll be?
It's all going down tomorrow from high noon until one o'clock at the Times Square Info Center @ 1560 Broadway on 7th Avenue between 46th and 47th.
From China's 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty (You'll Not See Nothing Like The Mighty Qin?) to the present day, the burning of books has a long history as a tool wielded by authorities both secular and religious, in efforts to suppress dissenting or heretical views that are perceived as posing a threat to the prevailing order.
When books are ordered collected by the authorities and disposed of in private, it may not be book burning, strictly speaking — but the destruction of cultural and intellectual heritage is the same.
According to scholar Elaine Pagels, "In AD 367, Athanasius, the zealous bishop of Alexandria... issued an Easter letter in which he demanded that Egyptian monks destroy all such unacceptable writings, except for those he specifically listed as 'acceptable' even 'canonical' — a list that constitutes the present 'New Testament'". Although Pagels cites Athanasius's Paschal letter for 367 CE, there is no order for monks to destroy heretical works contained in that letter.
Thus, heretical texts do not turn up as palimpsests, washed clean and overwritten, as pagan ones do; many early Christian texts have been as thoroughly "lost" as if they had been publicly burnt.
In his 1821 play, Almansor, the German writer Heinrich Heine — referring to the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, during the Spanish Inquisition — famously wrote:
“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.” or “Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” )One century later, Heine's books were among the thousands of volumes that were torched by the Nazis in Berlin's Opernplatz in an outburst that did, in fact, foreshadow the blazing ovens of the Holocaust.
Creepy and awful.
Anthony Comstock's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, founded in 1873, inscribed book burning on its seal, as a worthy goal to be achieved.
Comstock's total accomplishment in a long and influential career is estimated to have been the destruction of some 15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds of plates for printing such 'objectionable' books, and nearly 4,000,000 pictures. All of this material was defined as "lewd" by Comstock's very broad definition of the term — which he and his associates successfully lobbied the United States Congress to incorporate in the Comstock Law.
The Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451 is about a fictional future society that has institutionalised book burning. In Orwell's 1984, the euphemistically-called "memory hole" is used to burn any book or written text which is inconvenient to the regime, and there is mention of "the total destruction of all books published before 1960".