Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Books from popular authors/publishers that mysteriously aren't carried by mainstream bookstores

Namely one by James Loewen and one by Disinformation Press. Sundown Towns: a Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James Loewen, author of "Lies my teacher told me", is now in paperback but unlike "Lies" is not being stocked by any main chain bookstore. Even bookstores that literally have four copies of "Lies" next to three copies of "Lies across America", his follow up book, aren't stocking Sundown Towns, even though it's possibly even more important than those two. Sundown Towns is about the practice of towns in the north expelling all black residents, keeping blacks from moving there, and enforcing rules saying that blacks can work there during the day but have to leave by sundown. I've read the book and it's extraordinary. Sundown towns, and sundown ordinances, were in existence in large numbers until the 1970s, when things finally started to settle down a little bit. Because the concept of a sundown town was something enforced by a kind of quasi-legal process backed by vigilante violence it was possible for these traditions to silently give way, although the fact that blacks were now permitted to stay in a hotel after the sunsets doesn't necessarily mean that racism in that place is somehow abolished. Sundown towns are still in existence, places where even people who aren't racial minorities know that if you're an outsider, you aren't welcome, with places around that you know, somehow, you're not welcome to eat at or drink at unless you're of a certain background.

I think it says a lot about our culture that this book, which could sell as much as "Lies", despite being more academic, seems to be purposefully absent from stores. Maybe it hits a little too close to home for the faux-controversial nature of some stores. Just enough provocative titles in stock to make people think they aren't stodgy, but when it comes to real controversy, it ain't welcome. Which brings me to the other book: "Everything you know about God is wrong", put out by Disinformation Publishing.

I know about it because Disinfo has been putting short essays from it on their news blog, all of which are entertaining and provocative, but despite stores literally stocking every Disinformation compilation (Everything you know is wrong, Everything you Know about Sex is wrong, Abuse your illusions:The Disinformation Guide to Media Mirages and Establishment Lies and many more) I haven't seen "Everything you know about God is wrong" any place. It's the same format as the other ones, an oversize softcover book, with actually a better cover than most, but it's not there. It isn't anywhere even remotely mainstream, that stock and stock disinfo books. I've only seen it at an occult bookstore, where the humor of poking fun at Christianity is appreciated. It sold out fast. A little too close to home, maybe?

There was a Genesis P-Orridge recording out there where he talks about programming and systems of belief, and how we invest ourselves in certain arrangements, thinking that they're going to always function in the way we think, only to find one day that the arrangement has changed. When he outlined that part, using an example of how people invest themselves in these systems, he said
after the silence "Oh no! Suddenly he's gotten serious! I remember how that felt!". It's a shift from entertainment, passive entertainment and packaged dissent and titillation, to something serious, like people's notion of God, and somehow it's not as fun anymore. Sniffle sniffle.

Excuse me if I'm not exactly compassionate about that particular kind of suffering.

No comments: