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Books are NOT "Freedom."
What Mr. Jakushu Gregory Wood gets wrong
Here’s another fairy tale I feel like I’m wasting time on, but becomes mandatory that I should address such tomfoolery.
As much as I enjoy the Eurasianism and culture of Japantown San Francisco, you eventually bump into the pro-American, free-market anxiety types advocated by the older generation. Profit makes people mad. And the book industry is the next to go on the chopping block by late-stage capitalism. There is no saving it, and Jeff Bezos is glad to create a monopoly around self-publishing, paper, and books through Amazon.com.
I see the bookstore as a church, or a library, that provides knowledge, information, and wisdom in a non-profit mode of production. Hence the “store” name is a bad label, as it assumes profit is what they are into, which requires exploitation over dumb people to continue paying the store’s rent, and supply and cutting it out for the lazy capitalist owner who needs just enough to go on a Hawaiian vacation. But that Waikiki resort won’t come into the budget if there’s not enough money to support it! That’s why there are many other options for profiteering, like restaurant work and engineering, that are better than grifting or selling things people don’t need… like books.
That’s right. People need food, water, other people, and so forth, but books are a commodity, or a liability, and not an asset. Liabilities are not investments, and therefore, books are not investments.
Observe this warning sign found inside Forest Books in Japantown. Is this paranoia?:
…Wait. What about this “internet trolling” Mr. Jakushu Gregory Wood is talking about? Is this man a lolcow himself?
I honestly don’t feel like looking up Wood’s future concerns or what he’s about, but accordingly so, he calls himself “a lifelong Japanophile and Sinophile.” Ah! So we have a politically correct and professional open Asian! Bravo! But I’m not writing this to attack his character (Wood might assume that any criticism on the internet is a form of “harassment” or trolling). No. I’m rather addressing the most silly and disappointing advocation I have read in a long time. And yes, this sign has been up since 2016. So his grift has been going on for this long in the most expensive city in America?
Let us consider the internet for what it is. It is a tool and a technology that has not only liberated people but has unfortunately transformed capitalism into something else. I’m sure Wood has read the propaganda piece, “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” otherwise known as a debunked commercial that has been pushed by Boomer college professors and liberals alike in its attack against the Internet Archive, which offers everything at our fingertips through free .pdf files. There is no denying that the Information Age is here, and we are entering a “post” effect of that era. To simply be reactionary or contrarian against information and assume books are the authentic means of wisdom is bullshit at best. A basic reading of Vilém Flusser can tell you about books as an obsolete medium and the future of visual culture that has dominated the discourse. Like a soy boy who collects Funkopop dolls, Wood wants the righteous man to be the freedom advocate who collects books and organizes them by color on the bookshelf.
And what about knowledge? It’s not enough for Wood. If through trial and error, I make a mistake and learn from it, there is no perfection of “comprehension” for him. I know what black culture is about, its history, tradition, and behavior, and still, what makes that incomplete? Wouldn’t that be liberating to know about black culture? Or is that “racist” or incomprehensible? I understand the cause and effect here. I’m sure this is Wood applying some kind of Zen-Buddhist trip of thought assimilating with the irrational neoliberal state we live under. Why should I yearn to be a master with wisdom? Can I be a master without wisdom? Is that good, or bad? According to Wood, it must be all bad and has something to do with the objective presence of material books.
What exactly is “relevant?” Is Wood trying to pull some kind of Derrida-style deconstruction and outmaneuver the naive consumer? As if he went into the dictionary, looked up the meaning of “information,” which then looked up the meaning of “knowledge,” and so forth like an annoying Socratic and childish Matryoshka doll game.
Now let us consider books!
Books can be “turned off,” simply by closing them. It requires both mental and physical assertion to read. Did I have to be that metaphorical there?
Books can be edited with “second edition,” “third edition,” and so forth. There is a reason why academics and intellects must cite the latest edition, as previous points either were debunked, revised, or had a couple of typos, or Wood is interested in cancel culture and has to find the old words that make the author a legitimate racist. Just be grateful on Substack and Blogspot, you can make instant edits of typos and passages, which powerful editors would have been grateful for even back then. It’s called innovation.
Books, especially from major and mainstream publishing brands and outlets, the very products that Forest Books sells, are often used as manuals for social control. Books are the very thing that Wood claims they are not. Books do affect your retina (hence you have to wear glasses), they do affect your mental state, and there are cases of those who will read all night long. Pretty simple.
Of course “books” enfold and inspire. But this is talk of the object itself, or the medium of the physical book, and not the medium of language, the novel, or written prose. A book is a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers, where the written language is printed. Books are not the language, just like the television isn’t the televised program.
And to Wood, “Once bought, they are your own.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if Wood is some kind of private property advocate or libertarian. Everyone has access to the Internet Archive, and I can download and also own a pdf file. Eventually, 3d-printers will be able to print out PDFs, as material books, in the privacy of their own home, negating the interest in going to Forest Books in the first place. So obviously, as stated before, the book “store” often irrationally acts like a church, but is confused because of its irrational desire for profit. Isn’t 3D printing the private property power that Wood wants us to have?
And sadly what Wood gets wrong further is that books, especially new books, are catered to profit. Expect publishing houses to put out books that are no different from the clickbait found on any tabloid website. This kind of book annoys intellectuals with their farce and neoliberal clownish agendas.
As for Wood’s interest in “sinister political purposes,” what are all those rainbow and transgendered flags doing in San Francisco? What about that anarchist bookstore down on Haight Street? Is the political left not immune to these purposes? Perhaps we are already under an American, “freedom” religion advocated by Forest Books!
What Wood does not understand further is that novels, prose, and commentary are the “author’s life and art,” not the books. Books are not a “cultural legacy to the world,” as their history and mass media creation were as recent as 1400. Before this, only religious and elite positions could have access to written work, scribed in a language not known to the public. The English language wasn’t even a lingua franca of the world till the last 200 years. Again, “books” are defined by Wood as a consumer and material goods, and insisting the logic of language and communication 100% relies on the perishable medium. It’s just not true. It’s a recent technological phenomenon and not an infinite endgame. My understanding and intellect are not because of “books” alone, but many other facets. People write books, and people rely on other people, through speaking and oration, especially through the birth of religion, where books did not exist!
I’m not gonna “buy" a book if it’s too expensive. I would love to read more about Robinson Jeffers and his fascist upbringing. But Forest Books is charging that vintage book for $40! I don’t have that money! Why should I spend that much on it? It’s the classical college scam of buying nonsensical and ideological academic textbooks for $200 so the department can make money, even though all the information in the textbook will be debunked in about two years. So how can books be of legacy then? As Max Weber wrote about “bureaucratic authority,” the elites keep certain information away from the public and put it at an expensive price. It’s not an “investment” or valuable information. The book is expensive because it keeps unwanted middle-class people out of the discourse.
Nowhere did Wood make an argument or point about “internet trolling.” What is it? There was no elaboration on it. I guess written in 2016, Wood was upset that Donald Trump won the election and that “trolls” pushed him in.
As for “freedom,” Wood does not make any claim as to why “books are freedom.” Well, are books racist? Can books be harmful? What makes me “free” for reading a book? I have to have some kind of learned behavior of liberalism to believe that a single book gives me freedom. But aren’t there some that believe “hate speech is not free speech?” I guess some books celebrate “freedom,” like learning about black trans people against a night curfew policy and protesting about it with the help of local democrats, verse “hateful” books like Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. The mere information provided is bound to advocate hate!
Check out this little flyer attached below:
What happens if the book selection is bad? What if used books are sold for the same price as new books, and the same books about American politics are sold over and over again? Only the petit bourgeoisie would be interested in buying a book as a sentimental gift for their equally stupid Karen neighbor. Sure, there is an average selection of Asian resources. However, if you have read every single volume of Yukio Mishima and Japanese associates for the last decade, why buy the same books over and over again? The profit exploitation has to continue somehow.
Books are NOT a form of “freedom.” They are technological tools used for social control and ideological purposes. You can learn from reading books, but not by the ownership of the book. How does one read? Reading doesn't require a book!
Why is Wood so against research? Research is what makes up an intellectual point. I’ve done some research myself, and ironically, that “troll” research persuaded me that books are not a manifestation of freedom, whatsoever.
I didn’t buy any books from Forest Books. The selection is ugly. I’m sure the money is coming from somewhere else, likely from a rich family or an investment they have been living off of for two decades.
I don’t want to go over the history of how “freedom” is associated with American values and capitalism, as it is a common trope among liberals. I just got upset over another grifter trying to entice me to give him money for no reason other than ideological reasons. That’s exactly why capitalism is failing.