Sunday, 19 June 2016

The library conspiracy

It is my firm belief that all librarians in the world belong to a secret society. From the chief librarian of the Library of Congress down to the librarian at the local school. My research traces this secret society back to the Oracle at Delphi. That librarians have traditionally been women even while men dominated teaching and academia is due to the high priestess' unique role at Delphi, which gave them power over kings and generals.

The commonly understood story is that Greek generals would consult the Oracle in advance of war or on sensitive matters of diplomacy, but the hidden history is far more involved. The Pythia, or high priestesses, pursued their own clandestine agenda. Using the noxious gases rising from under the temple, they would drug those who sought the Oracle's counsel, give them the advice on war and diplomacy they sought, but would also instruct them - under a trance - to deploy forces to secretly collect books, tablets, curios and any other vessels of knowledge and culture from the lands they conquered and return them to Delphi.

For nearly 1500 years, the Oracle amassed a complete and detailed history of the world. With this accumulated knowledge, they began to influence the course of world events from behind the scenes. Their goal was to maintain world peace as best as possible while simultaneously promoting the intellectual progress of the species. Their library became so large that the Library of Alexandria was erected to hold their more secret works. But it was no mere library, it was a research institution, where acolytes poured over texts and experimented in foreign sciences and extrapolated possible future histories. There were librarians at Alexandria who were experts in Chinese culture, Amazon tribes, and Vedic mathematics. If Delphi was the Hellenistic CIA, the Library at Alexandria was the NSA. Total knowledge, total understanding of all things at all times.

But as in all great organisations, there was a power struggle. The Oracle had foreseen the ascendancy of a new world power in the guise of a monotheistic religion, unbeholden to the laws and traditions of the Hebrews, that would openly attempt to subsume the rationalistic thought of Aristotle and others within its world view. At the Oracle, the priestess plotted generations ahead to infiltrate the group and subvert it from within. For example, Mary Magdalene was a priestess at Delphi, a fact known to the apostles and which earned her the title "whore." The librarians at Alexandria were more sceptical, and pushed instead for a more overt conflict of ideas to prevent the yoke of this new religion from falling over the burgeoning empire in Rome.

Ultimately, the librarians lost. When Theodosius banned all pagan religions and institutions, the Oracle and Delphic quietly closed its doors. Alexandria refused, and was burned to the ground. But the priestesses of Delphi infiltrated the new church.

Or so history thought. Instead, the secret itself became buried in a secret.

Nearly all of the volumes from Alexandria survived, but became dispersed across Africa and Europe. The librarians, deploying the printing technology of the Chinese centuries before Gutenberg's press, made copy after copy of these secret texts, and raised successive generations of students who pursued this apocryphal knowledge, but maintained the secret.

To this day, the librarians hidden work continues, even in the internet age. They patiently and diligently scrub catalogs, bibliographies and databases for any mention of sensitive books, and quietly disappear them. They comb through outdated card catalogs and with deft sleight-of-hand palm certain sheets from the shelves, never to be seen again. Why are we surprised that librarians staffed Google Answers in numbers beyond their proportion, or that librarians embraced that particular search engine above all others? Am I to believe that Google's vast computing resources are combing through nothing more than Twitter and Facebook pages? More likely that Google is an organ of this society of librarians. From antiquity into the encrypted database, without passing by the public.

I've spent years in pursuit of this hidden life of librarians, and I assure you that this is all true. I've seen the hidden books. Aristotle's Magnetics, Milton's Unreading the Decameron, Franklin's The Treasure of the Metropolis of the Susquehanna Indian. I've seen the original first edition of Thomas and Finney's Calculus, which contains on page 213 a triple integral that when plotted in three dimensions on a computer reveals a cave in a mountainside - somewhere. And I've seen the other "first" edition of this book, which came out a year later, with this problem removed.

I've seen much more, and I am sure there is more than we can imagine still to be discovered.

To what dark purpose are these secret texts being put? Is this secret society of librarians our friend or foe? Are our librarians deploying these hidden books, which now amount to entire hidden disciplines, to thwart some greater and dark hidden force? What centuries-long conflict is being waged in card catalogs and in Special Collections?

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