An Elegy for The Bookman

In 1984 there was a ministry of truth, telling lies. Just telling? Well, manufacturing would make a more appropriate word. Mass production would have suited it even better. The factory of falsehood had a grip on the entire land, and beyond. Unlike today, during those “triumphant” times censorship hasn’t been regarded as an outrage but as THE common place. Censors were the go-to guys. Also copiously self-fattened pigs wearing sweated undersized neckties. If such a star pig deemed your pen “dangerous” then chances were high for you to meet the agile and athletic professional dogs, those wearing the dark blue uniforms of another ministry: that which secured the “truth.” I lived through 1984. And so did he. Let us call him The Outlaw!

Somewhere during this foregone 1984 epoch, the state propaganda machine (they call it “the media” today) had a loud and strident concert set up by night, right in the middle of his city. The Outlaw had an idea. Together with an acolyte, after climbing up the church tower, they rang the bells. Yes!, those huge Renaissance bronze bells made and mounted by one of those guys whose face is on the money nowadays. Those huge bells of yore which kept the pest away from the city (air vibrations breaking the floating germs), which anticipated orc wars and which, ever since, reverberate every day at noon in retrospect of great victories. Those bells helped The Outlaw to silence off the officially sanctioned nonsense, at least for that night.

Sometimes after the 1984 epoch, but before the “Brave New World” had been frantically established, The Outlaw looked around and saw nothing. He began by acquiring old books, copying them and sharing them with friends. Old books that were printed prior to the gray times of the 1984. Old books that were dusted, ragged and a miracle to be opened and read by the eye. Mostly unique samples remarkably spared from the raging proletarian fires. The Outlaw cared for these books more than he cared for his own body. Befriending think alike editors and publishers, he made sure to multiply the copies, and the titles, of the older, and newer, books that spoke of the Truth ahead of the officially sanctioned “truth.” By train, he carried loads of heavy paper on his back — literally! — always smiling or laughing at the situation, making mild jokes and helping old ladies cross the street.

What good is a printed book waiting to rot in the dark corners of a cellar? Understanding this, The Outlaw provided his feet, and his back, and his being, to the books. So they walked. Or he walked them all across Europe. For roughly two decades. Until a traffic accident broke his back. What would have Jesus made of a man who used to be always on the move?, whose life was defined by the movement? Let him live a helpless life?, as a conscious captive inside his own crippled body? Thus The Outlaw has been invited to roam the upper realms. To move! Today, his tenacious wife — together with countless friends attending the funeral of The Outlaw — says goodbye to her beloved husband.

She told me, this very morning, that he was at peace before leaving and that he told her to keep up walking the books, until they’ll come together in a world with no censors, no ministries of truth, no information filters, no pigs.

Farewell, my dear Outlaw. Missing you!


Imperial Golden Eagle, Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna.

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