J. Boorstin, a Jewish-American historian and writer, was the Librarian
of Congress from 1975 until 1987.
graduated with honors from Harvard, studied at Balliol College,
Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and earned his PhD. at Yale University.
He was a lawyer and university professor. He also served as director
of the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian
Institution.Boorstin wrote more than 20 books, including a trilogy
on the American experience and one on world intellectual history.
The Americans: The Democratic Experience,
the final book in the first trilogy, received the 1973 Pulitzer
Prize in history. Boorstin also wrote the books The Discoverers
and The Creators, a pair of books that attempt to survey
the scientific and artistic histories of humanity respectively.
the discipline of social theory, Boorstin’s 1962 book The
Image: A guide to Pseudo-events in America is notable as
it is considered by some to be an early, landmark attempt to describe
aspects of American life that would later famously be termed hyperreality
and postmodernity. In The Image, Boorstin describes shifts in
American culture - mainly due to advertising - where the reproduction
or simulation of an actual event becomes more important or 'real'
than the event itself.
goes on to coin the term pseudo-event which describes events or
activities that almost solely exist within the realm of advertisements
or other forms of publicity, but largely did not actually occur
in real life. The idea of Pseudo-events closely mirrors work done
later by French postmodernists such as Jean Baudrillard and Guy
Debord. The work was often used as a text in American sociology
President Gerald Ford nominated Boorstin to be Librarian of Congress,
the nomination was supported by the Authors League of America
but opposed by the American Library Association because Boorstin
"was not a library administrator." The Senate confirmed
the nomination without debate.
his term as Librarian of Congress, Boorstin established the Center
for the Book to encourage reading and literacy. In addition, he
spearheaded what became a 10-year project to completely renovate
Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, restoring
the main building to its original 1897 condition. He became Librarian
of Congress Emeritus on August 4, 1987. Boorstin was born in Atlanta,
Georgia and died in Washington, D.C.
have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance
than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers
but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No
agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan,
a heretic, or an unbeliever."
preoccupies us, then, is not God as a fact of nature, but as a
fabrication useful for a God-fearing society. God himself becomes
not a power but an image."
is the Celebrity-Author of the World's Best Seller. We have made
God into the biggest celebrity of all, to contain our own emptiness."
test was a willingness to believe in the one Jesus Christ and
His Message of salvation. What was demanded was not criticism
but credulity. The Church Fathers observed that in the realm of
thought only heresy had a history."