Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cartoons published in Harpers

When the whole Mohammad cartoon controversy was in full broil, it passed my mind that eventually libraries would have to obtain a copy of the cartoons so that future historians, communication studies folks, and just the plain curious would be able to see for themselves what caused the riots, the deaths, and the handwringing in early 2006.

The trouble was that no one was publishing the cartoons in North America. Sure, you could find the cartoons on the Internet but how could you be sure that you were seeing what was actually published in the Jyllands-Posten? Recall that many of the images circulating the Middle East during that time which were proported to be from the Danish newspaper were actually collected from neo-Nazi groups, eager to fuel the fires of hatred.

Sure, a thumbnail of page three of Jyllands-Posten's culture section from September 30, 2005 is available on Wikipedia, but that image has been slightly altered. One cartoon's Danish caption has been replaced with one that has been translated into English. And I know this because the June 2006 issue of Harper's Magazine has published a thumbnail of said page in an article entitled "Drawing Blood: Outrageous Cartoons and the Art of Outrage" by Art Spiegelman.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The gift of storytelling

The baby was getting a little fussy as it was approaching his bedtime so we picked him up and took him to the front porch to calm him down and enjoy the early evening. Unlike most evenings, there was no clamour of small neighbourhood children about and so the baby was entertained by watching the occasional car go by when he wasn't pulling my hair.

And then the little girl next door wandered out. She was the shiest girl on the block and also the one most desperate to have someone to play with as her little brother was just a baby. We'd frequently see her standing on her front lawn forlornly waiting for a neighbour's child to emerge, waiting with pure ache. When she did play with the other children, she would happily but wordlessly follow them along and mimic whatever game was at hand. This was not just because of shyness; she was a recent immigrant and English was her second language. Like most children, she paid little attention to adults but over time, she overcame her shyness to occasionally join us on the porch so she could silently stare at Mats, the baby, up close. It was yesterday when she spotted us, she stopped, stared at us for a moment, and then bolted back inside.

Moments later she emerged with a stack of small books and she ran to our porch, stopped dead in front of us and looked expectantly. Ghengis took the pile of books, picked one, and began to read to her. You could see her brighten with delight. Reading fed her happiness.

I noticed that all the books had come from the Windsor Public Library. It is moments like these that make me proud to be a librarian.