Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Life and Power of Books, According to Milton

The idea of censorship is an interesting debate, one of which there isn't always an easy answer. Yet, Milton does make some very intriguing points in Aeropagitica, regarding books, knowlege and censorhip. Something that I found interesting was his comparison of killing a man versus "killing" a book. He says, "Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image, but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye." This phrase really stuck out to me. To place such value on knowledge, even perhaps over the life of someone seems almost blasphemous, and yet Milton makes a point. Milton shows that he sees books as objects that contain bright vivid life. They are by no means dead but breathe life into all that read them. I guess for Milton to deny that life to someone may be the equivalent
of killing.

This actually led me to make a weird connection to the Book of Mormon. I thought of the scene where Nephi is instructed to kill Laban. He shrinks away from the task but God then tells him that it's better for one man to die than for an entire nation to perish from unbelief, or in this case, the knowledge that those plates would bring. I believe Milton has a similar idea here, in that the knowledge that books contain is incredibly valuable, maybe even more than the life of man. It's an interesting, though maybe slightly extreme thought.

However, I can see Milton's point. As a proud bookworm, I've always adored, and fiercely protected books.  I love and admire the great power that they carry. Books can bring you into worlds you never imagined and cause you to feel emotions you didn't think possible. They truly are full of life and light. I could never bring myself to burn or rip pages out of a book; it just feels so incredibly wrong to me. I'm glad that Milton saw that as well, and this idea of the importance of books and knowledge really worked in leading him to his argument against censorship.

1 comment:

  1. I love books, too.
    But I will confess to having ripped up and thrown away ONE book in my life. (Rather then giving it to D.I. or something.) I do not regret my actions. It was the worst thing I've ever read in my entire life, and not in a good way--like "The Lord of the Flies" is the good kind of bad. Of course there are other copies out there in the world, but I just didn't want to subject anyone to any more of it if I could help it. Perhaps I'll blog about my experience. It could be interesting.