26 August 2006


David Abel just sent an email noting the reappearance of The New Combat, as a memorial to Kemal Bakarsic, who died this summer. Kemal's essay there, "The Libraries of Sarajevo and the Book That Saved Our Lives," tells a very big story, one still appropriate to our moment.

Here is David's note, with the link to the article.

"The attack lasted less than half an hour. The fire lasted into the next day. The sun was obscured by the smoke of books, and all over the city sheets of burned paper, fragile pages of grey ashe, floated down like a dirty black snow. Catching a page you could feel its heat, and for a moment read a fragment of text in a strange kind of black and grey negative, until, as the heat dissipated, the page melted to dust in your hand. . . . "

That's a paragraph from the middle of a short article by Kemal Bakarsic, "The Libraries of Sarajevo and the Book That Saved Our Lives." I've read that paragraph to audiences many times over the years, as part of
lectures/performances related to the experiences of books.

The article was first published in August 1994, in Bill Ney's political magazine The New Combat. As a memorial to Kemal, who died this summer, Bill has begun to resurrect The New Combat online, beginning with a reprinting of that article (and other material to come, he says).

Rereading it now, I wanted to share it with as many people as I could. So I hope that if you read it, and it moves you, you might forward the link to others.

For Kemal's sake (and perhaps my own), I hope that Bachelard was right (in the final paragraph).



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