A Random Movie Scene, An Old Book, And Possible Fodder For Philosophers

One of my favorite movie scenes is in The Day After Tomorrow: A super storm is hitting New York, temperatures are dropping, and city refugees are holed up in the Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library. Their best bet for survival is to set fires and huddle together in a single room of the massive building. What materials you reckon they use for setting those life saving fires? Yeah.

One librarian, Elsa, notices that the other, Jeremy, is holding tightly to an old bible. Snidely, she asks, “You think God’s gonna save you?” Equally snidely he replies that he doesn’t believe in God. This book is a Gutenberg Bible. He glares at the boys steadily throwing books into the fire and says: I’m protecting it. This Bible is the first book ever printed. It represents the dawn of the Age of Reason. As far as I’m concerned, the written word is mankind’s greatest achievement. You can laugh. But if Western civilization is finished, I’m gonna save at least one little piece of it.

An obscure scene, perhaps, but I think it absolutely profound.

This past weekend I did a rare thing. I did what my grandmother would have referred to as lollygagging, which is ignoring all adult responsibilities and looming chores to do something entirely useless. It made for a great Saturday afternoon.

I went to find a tiny little bookshop Google insisted exists just a few blocks from my own neighborhood that I must have driven by a thousand times but never saw. That bookshop, according to Google, has a vintage section. Google was correct on both counts.

Look at what I found:

American Poets And Their Theology

A first edition, copyright 1916. I got it for $1.

This is now the oldest book in my collection. Admittedly, upon this discovery I wasn’t as over the moon as the day I stumbled across the 1950 Random House reprint of Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman ($4), but only because I’m unfamiliar with Augustus Strong. I assumed that such a title could only be composed by an academic. Turns out that I assumed correctly. Other than a tiny bit of info on the author’s motivation for writing it, thus far, all I know about the book is that it’s found on seminary curricula lists and newer editions sell for $50-$70 online.

Do you have an old book fetish? Shall we discuss the relevance of spirituality/religion so present in poetic works? Or, shall we discuss the Age of Reason and all its near death experiences?


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5 Responses to A Random Movie Scene, An Old Book, And Possible Fodder For Philosophers

  1. t.s.wright says:

    Reblogged this on Eadar Doodles + Cheese and commented:

    Go be awesome!


  2. robert okaji says:

    I used to collect books. Now they just accumulate. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. missflyer says:

    Most of my books fall into the accumulate pile like robert_okaji – I have SO many books waiting ever so patiently for my attention. Some of them get so close to being read, then get rudely shoved aside by an older or – sakes alive! – newer book/acquisition.

    I do have some books that I have collected for being old – usually found at estate sales or maybe a used bookstore for really cheap – and I think the oldest one I have is a slightly tattered hardcover from about 1891. I don’t have it handy at the moment, so I don’t remember the title or anything else about it other than it has been around the block a few times.

    At one estate sale, I came away with what I thought a wondrous find: four volumes of “Adventures in Bookland” hardcover (I’m pretty sure that is the title of the series), pristine, beautiful condition with full color plates scattered throughout, for only $35 for all of them. When I checked their value online a couple of years ago, they were each maybe $10 apiece, nothing too special it seemed. But beautiful nonetheless, and I’m glad I got them.

    At another estate sale, there was an old scrapbook-type of hardcover brimming with pictures and drawings and writings of the child that filled its pages with memories. It was so full that the outer covers were bent up in the centers, and little edges and scraps occasionally peeked out from between the pages. I felt so bad for this little forgotten book, whose owner’s descendants/relatives took no interest in the surely rich history contained therein. I mean to give it a caring read-through and see what stories, what snapshots of history, it contains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beauty is definitely a factor, and it’s difficult (for me anyway) to find an ugly book 😀 That scrapbook sounds remarkable! I’m so glad you discovered it.

      Lovely to see you again, Miss. Glad to have ya back from all your travels!


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