Thursday, June 10, 2010

". . .nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac" Judge Woolsey

Among the library holdings was a copy of Ulysses--and the box in which it was smuggled.

It was in the Special Collections, although there were numerous copies on the open shelves waiting to circulate. Those copies were there because it had been decided there was really nothing lustful on their pages. They were not aphrodisiacs, that was the decision of the court, and so the pages could be read by anyone who visited the public library.

There was still plenty of censorship operating in the library, mostly perpetrated by self-appointed censors armed with  razors or glue. The books receiving greatest attention were the HQs "Family, Marriage, Women, Sexuality..." Illustrations were slashed out and entire books were reduced to blocks of sealed pages. I imagine it was feared that those books were aphrodisiacs--or worse.

I read this morning that Ulysses is being censored once again. The issue is not the words Joyce wrote and how they might set an aphrodisiac fire in the brain. It's an illustrated Ulysses, Ulysses "Seen" that includes a line drawing of a penis. It reminded me a little of Mickey's from In the Night Kitchen.

Of course, Mickey's member was censored: Diapers were painted on with white-out. Little boys ought not fall out of their clothes, according to some.

But the most disturbing case of censorship I've ever heard about involved a photograph of a little girl burned by napalm. She is naked because she tore off her burning clothes. She would have died if she hadn't done so. A censorious mind put a Band Aid over her genitals, because that should not be seen.
A child burned by napalm: acceptable:: her genitals: not acceptable.
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