I’d like to suggest an alternate meaning and etymology for a familiar word:
liber – ation n : Freedom achieved by way of a book or books. From Latin liber, book.
This could be used in at least three ways:
- The liberation achieved by some poor schlub who writes a book that becomes a bestseller, as a result of which he’s liberated from all financial worries and the need to work for the rest of his life. (Of course this refers to a generic poor schlub, not to anyone in particular, and in particular, not to anyone you know.)
- In the late 1840s, the uprisings across Europe were fueled in large part by books and pamphlets spread clandestinely across the continent. In the 1920s, Hitler’s Mein Kampf played the same role in Germany. In the 1960s, it was the little red book, The Sayings of Chairman Mao. In the 1970s, the Iranian revolution was inflamed by cassette tapes of speeches by Ayatollah Khomeini which were smuggled into the country. Right now, in North Africa and let’s hope soon further to the east, the spark has been provided by the Internet.
But dictators can and do cut access to the Net. Suppose that in the near future cheap e-book readers proliferate across the world. Then inflammatory books can be spread everywhere, providing a spark to the tinder that dictators will be unable to halt.
- And now for my favorite.
As I’m writing this, Muammar Gaddafi seems to be in control only of a shrinking portion of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. The triumphant forces of liberation control the rest of the country and are closing in on him, and the end of his tyranny seems to be imminent.
At the very same time, the big, traditional New York City publishers are watching with alarm as the rest of the country slips from their grasp. From small beginnings in cities and towns across the nation, the liberating force of self-published e-books has taken control of ever more territory. Day by day, the oppressive, stultifying ancien régime is squeezed into a smaller space and weakened, until in the end the heavy weight, the literary destructiveness, of its dead hand will be thrown off entirely and it will be, to complete the metaphor, decapitated.
In other words, it will be smashed. Dancing in the streets, the now-free throngs will shout their new slogan: Smashwords!
Whew! I need a cigarette!