Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Library: Consolidation Via Deus Ex Machina?

Fanatic: a person motivated by irrational enthusiasm (as for a cause);

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject" - Winston Churchill

The September Issue of Whatcom Watch carried yet a third article from Mr. Fred Volz on the subject of our Library system, the first two appearing in the March and June 2009 issues.
Sandwiched in between these first two articles was a clear and factual response in the May issue by Pam Kiesner, our Library Director.

Curiously, Mr Volz's second article was prefaced by an Editor's comment to the effect that some of his statements could not be readily verified and therefore ought to be considered as opinions. Good surmise!
Quite possibly, that may account for the fact that WW chose not to enable that piece for Internet reading.

Now, Mr Volz has again submitted a lengthy article that repeats much of his previous arguments, but also adds some rather presumptive speculations, thereby weaving a remarkable scenario that has an almost Alice in Wonderland quality about it, but not quite.
While it is apparent that Mr Volz has learned something from his various exchanges, the way he has chosen to apply this knowledge subtracts from his credibility.
This verified by the Editor's subtle -perhaps too subtle- lead-in byline; 'Deus Ex Machina'.

I had to look up Deus Ex Machina in Wikipedia
Here's briefly what it means:
A deus ex machina (pronounced /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks ˈmɑːkinə/ or /ˈdiː.əs ɛks ˈmækɨnə/, or day oos ayks mokinah [1] literally "god from the machine") is a plot device in which a person or thing appears "out of the blue" to help a character to overcome a seemingly insolvable difficulty.

In fiction writing, the phrase has been extended to refer to a sudden and unexpected resolution to a seemingly intractable problem in a plot-line, or what might be called an "Oh, by the way..." ending.
A deus ex machina is generally undesirable in writing and often implies a lack of skill on the part of the author.
The reasons for this are that it does not pay due regard to the story's internal logic and is often so unlikely that it challenges suspension of disbelief, allowing the author to conclude the story with an unlikely, though perhaps more palatable, ending.
Sometimes the unlikeliness of the deus ex machina plot device is employed deliberately:

I don't know if the author used this device deliberately, or what his intention might have been in doing so.
Maybe, it was just to get another badly organized argument with multiple opinions and personal wishes out there for others to read, become misinformed or confused about and thereby aid and abet whatever agenda he is pushing.
There are better ways to advance a principled public discussion on this important issue than the method Mr Volz has chosen, which may end up mainly discrediting him.

Perhaps, he will consider attending the public meetings of the Library Board of Trustees, joining the Friends of the Library, availing himself of the facts that are readily accessible on the various legalities, realities and methods available to initiate changes in the system we have, etc, if he has not already done these things.

Continuing to rely on some supernatural force, like deus ex machina or Superman won't help much.
Neither will casting dispersions on others who are doing what they can with the situation and resources available to even maintain the valuable library system we have now.

Instead of externalizing his perception of a problem to others, Mr Volz -and the public- would be better served by simply engaging in the hard and often thankless work of civic involvement.
Everything is not perfect, nor is it likely to be, unless one's imagination can conjure an endless array of deus ex machina devices at will, then believe they work.

News links:

Bellingham Public Library announcement

Herald article

CNN article -digital libraries

Crosscut article

' I cannot live without books.' - Thomas Jefferson 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)