Sacred texts?

Posted by tinythoughtguy on October 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Late last week I came down with something and have been sleeping for the greater portion of the last several days so I hope that this blog entry is still relatively coherent.

The entry today isn’t life altering or mind expanding per se, it’s just something that I find interesting and perhaps somewhat odd. I don’t know if this goes back to the days of checking out books in the library at school; however, it seems to be a condition that persists into adulthood: fear of defacing/marking-up books. On several occasions, frequently while sitting in coffee shops or in public places, I notice looks of bewilderment and horror as I highlight text in the book that I’m reading. There have also been occasions when a friend or acquaintance notices my blasphemous acts and comments that they would never do such a thing to a book that they own.

Now, I understand that the book does not belong to us that it would be inappropriate to damage it or deface it because it is somebody else's property. I can’t say that if I’d lend a book to somebody I would be overly impressed if it was returned with all sorts of notes and hieroglyphs inked onto the pages.

On the other hand, if the book belongs to me I see no problem in my using a highlighter to emphasize important parts nor do I see a problem with making notes and comments in the margins. The reason I read books is to acquire new knowledge or reinforce information that I have acquired elsewhere. In many cases, much of what I am highlighting will be used in my own books as quoted reference material and if I did not highlight these particular passages amount of time needed to find them again would be laborious.

So, why do so many people see books as “sacred” and think that any activity which alters/defaces them as a deplorable act? I can’t say for sure, but I think it is the programmed fear response arising from years of threats and scowls from the guardians of wisdom dwelling behind the checkout counter at the school library. I guess I should just be grateful that it was not Pavlov behind the counter because I shudder to think how much damage my drool would do to my favorite book every time my highlighter was uncapped.

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