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کتاب: جوهر و استخوان / فصل 5

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EPHEMERA

Text of a letter by Thomas Paine of the Territory of America, written in 1795.

Consigned to the Black Archives; not available to the Codex. Access strictly controlled. Marked as SEDITIOUS CONTENT.

There are three parts to learning: information, knowledge, and wisdom.

A mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and a treasure of knowledge is not in itself, wisdom.

The Library holds itself to be the keeper of both knowledge and wisdom, but it is not true. So much should never be held in the hands of so few, for it is a natural, venal habit of men to hold to power.

And knowledge is the purest form of power.

The Curators mete out knowledge and progress in drips and drops, and see their duty to the people as that of a parent to an infant. As a parent will keep danger from his child, so then does the Library seek to protect us from what it deems dangerous knowledge.

But there is no wisdom without knowledge, no progress without danger, and I am not the Library’s child! I must acquire my own information, build my own knowledge and, through experience, transform it to the treasured gold of wisdom.

To this end, I say that the greatest good that can be done for mankind is to shatter the doors of the Great Library and make off with its storehouse of knowledge, spread it far and wide, for though the Library’s history is vast and deep, even the greatest invention can turn upon its creators.

And so the very institution we thought would bring the most light to the world has instead drowned it in shadows, and claimed that shadow as full sun.

And we, poor blind creatures, have believed the lie.

It is a fine thing to preserve knowledge, but to set the Great Library above men, above nations, above life? This is not wisdom.

I will not believe that life is worth less than ink on a page. Let that be our rallying cry. Let us shout it where we can.

Let us raise our hands against the false idols of the Serapeums wherever they rise.

Let us burn our life’s work before they seize upon it and lock it in the darkness.

Let us burn it down and bring new light into the world.A handwritten annotation to the tract, in the hand of Archivist Magister Alessandro Volta, 1795: The American Territory has become a fetid jungle in which grows a dangerous heresy. See that it is rooted out by whatever means are necessary.

The Burner philosophy must, for our continued survival, be destroyed.

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