Quinn Norton’s excellent piece on Occupy in Wired

via Crooked Timber and bunch of other places, Quinn Norton’s amazing piece on the good and the bad of Occupy.

I am still trying to make sense of Occupy. I do know that for me, it did expose a shrill hypocrisy among many in the US who give lip service to freedom but who chortled with glee while riot cops bashed young people’s heads because members of occupy dared disrupt the precious social order by using their freedom of assembly. Does freedom mean merely the freedom to earn and buy? But not, I guess, the freedom to band together if I don’t agree with you, or if you represent a class of urban young people I don’t like, or whatever. In that case, shut up, be invisible, and Obey. That struck me as sad throughout, and it still strikes me as sad and as a fundamental inability to understand that liberty entails the obligation to make space for people and ideas you do not like.

Why libraries are so necessary to the city

I have no idea where and how it became a rule that the library is a quiet place, but a million thanks to whoever that first librarian was for shushing conversation. Museums and libraries are one of the few places you can go in the city where people will shut up. Go to a bar, there’s music blaring. Go to a restaurant, there’s music blaring and other peoples’ conversation. Public gardens, to the extent there are any anymore, are full of people having cell phone conversations.

You step into a library from the street in a big city, and into the reading room, and you have found quiet. As much as I love the books, and their endless possibilities, I love the quiet and its possibilities more.