“They’ll be led, be bled, and time’s wheel will turn on after they’ve gone.”

There is a remarkable piece written by a man who once called for Salman Rushdie to die. It’s about the awesome power of books, and the fearful power of ignorance, and the power we have to change the future.

Read all of it. But in case you needed persuading, here’s a taste.


"Worse crimes than burning books." Image by Eric C. Castro on Flickr. Photo is of stacked antique books, with the quote "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. - Joseph Brodsky"

“Worse crimes than burning books.” Image by Eric C. Castro on Flickr.

And in fear anything can become real. The truth can become a lie, it can die, and writing a book can become a crime, because of the noise it made.


But then what do eleven-year-old boys know? Not much. They can be led by old men who should know better. But then what do old men know if they never read and just follow orders of other men? They knew nothing, but this was nothing new. Men have been led by men forever. Men who follow rules will be ruled. They’ll be led, be bled, and time’s wheel will turn on after they’ve gone. There was nothing new they could show me.


Every generation must decide its own future, and with every action and decision they write it. We’re all the authors of tomorrow’s history books. Growing up we made enemies that were never there. Old men, wise old men used to tell us things and we’d listen, but why, when it’s the young who have the new ideas? Those old men believed that we’d repeat our lives in the sky and that Salman should die. I don’t want to be that old man. I want to be the new. Look, here it is, our page today that will become history. If we’ve made mistakes, turn it over and start again, you’re allowed to, and on it let’s write something new.

"Writing in the Dark." Image by Howard Dickins on Flickr. Image shows an open journal in a dark room. A hand is writing in it with a glowing pen.

“Writing in the Dark.” Image by Howard Dickins on Flickr.


  1. rq says

    Not only is he a great person for having learned; not only is he a courageous person for having the guts to apologise; he is also, as he says himself, one of those born to write. Because he certainly has the gift for it. (And, I do not doubt, the experiences to write something truly captivating.) *applause*

  2. says


    We should be on guard against generalizing about ‘old men’ however. Senior citizens can be a wealth of useful knowledge.

    Having said that, let me quickly add–Skepticism in all things. Examine what anyone….ANYONE regardless of age, or any of the other common biases, tells you and make up your own mind.

    Confusion to our enemies!

  3. otrame says

    Men who follow rules will be ruled.

    A little piece of Truth there. Following a rule simply and only because it is a rule is devastating to human existence.