Banned Books Across the Globe

The power of knowledge is a terrifying thing for parts of the world, while for others, it’s a sense of liberation. Knowledge comes from experience and books. The ones with experience are the ones who write the books, and the stories in books are what gives people ideas, promotes imagination. Allowing people to create stories of their choosing for others to read has been a controversial topic for about a century now.

 

The United States prides itself on “freedom of speech” for its citizens. Nowadays it is incredibly hard to ban a book in the United States, near impossible. Sure, there are still books that are highly frowned upon in which there are less copies made, and some school districts and organizations ban books from being in their libraries and put into school assignments. But there are many books that were taken out of circulation even in the US for a while. In fact, many classic books are still frowned upon. Books like The Adventures of Huck Finn and Uncle Tom’s Cabin have been controversial due to the amount of derogatory race-relate worlds and cruelty towards African Americans. These are just two books that have been banned in the past, but are now available and just marked up as some of the books that “aren’t with the times” and dated. There are many more books that have been banned just in the United States that make a person roll their eyes.

Many countries outside of the United States, even ones as progressive, are still banning or taking books out of circulation. Books like American Psycho have been classified as demeaning to women and violent. American Psycho is still banned in Queensland, Australia. The Anarchist Cookbook gives how-to’s on how to build bombs and make drugs. This book (for obvious reasons) is still banned in Australia and the U.K. Many others are on this list of banned books, and there are still books in the United States still being controversial. A Texas high school banned simple, everyday books that a college kid like myself actually owns. In fact, if I had been able or even prompted to read some of the more mature books, it could have helped me mature faster and open my mind to a different thought process. The Art of Racing in the Rain was removed from the high school’s library shelves for one scene with sexual content. High school students know about sex. Reading a story that has a scene about consenting adults should not be condemned, in fact, it SHOULD be brought to attention. With the amount of crime and widely accepted or ignored violence in the world right now, a book like this is harmless.

 

Who makes these arguments to rid their world of these books? Why do they get a say? As an avid reader, having read several of these “banned books,” I thrive on the knowledge and understanding I get once I read a book. People want to know. There is never enough information about any topic. The world wants to know more, but it has become apparent that there are governments, activists, conservatives, and people who have just plain radical thoughts… basically people from all spectrums… who want others to see their sides. They fear people who have different ideas, and thoughts, and the ones who can persuade others to open up their eyes and have an imagination take a lot of heat.

 

It’s understandable that certain governments might not want a “How to cook up drugs and bombs” book circulating, but many governments, including South Korea, ban books that have potential to inform its audience of sketchier instances within its own boundaries. Other books that are included on the list of banned, disapproval, and ones that have been limited on publishing and circulation are ones that have characteristics such as being very progressive and forward thinking, revealing a pitfall of a government, group, or a major scandal of some sort. Mysteries, such as The DaVinci Code, thrillers, classics, and informative texts have all had their turn in being banned. Even in places like France, there have been books banned. Classic books, by Voltaire, have been banned.

 

We live in a world that is very dependent on “the system.” We trust our governments and our legislature because it’s easier, we don’t think we’ll get anywhere if we do speak our minds, and we’re scared of being the one to stand out. With public shaming being very apparent with the help of the internet, someone always watching your every move. This is something that everyone fears, for example, who’s reading my blog post right now? This relates to the banning of books. People (specifically the authors and the ones they influence) are speaking their minds in their books. They’re stating facts, opinions, stories, and people are listening or reading them. It creates ideas, movements. And ultimately, that is a universal concern. People fear ideas that are different from their own.

À bientôt, Paris!

I was fortunate enough to start my international travel endeavors early than most in life; as a seventeen year old that had just graduated high school, I was privileged enough to go abroad to Paris, France with some of my close friends, teachers, and my mom through EF Tours. Although it was only for a week, my trip to Paris was one that shaped my college experience and aspirations, making me crave international travel and the prospect of learning about different languages and cultures so exciting. The only thing I regret about Paris is what most do: there simply isn’t enough time to cover everything it has to see, offer, or experience.

The typical landmarks, The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, l’Opera de Palais, the Palace of Versailles, Notre Dame, the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Eiffel Tower were all covered in my weeklong trip. We were able to go with a large group of students from all over the United States through EF Tours, so there were a large number of us getting to know each other and explore the city. I am a self-proclaimed history and art buff, j’adore les musees, so seeing the city itself with its extensive history from the books and movies was surreal to say the least.

Seeing only the basic French icons wasn’t enough for me though. I want to go back. For weeks. Months. Maybe a year. Backpacking across Europe perhaps? It’s just a thought. But with this thought I have done some significant background research, and if I could spend another week in Paris, I would make it count. I’m not saying I would go wild, throwing all cares out the window. I still want to see the grand views, but not the ones that are the first that are thought of when one thinks of Paris. If I could go back, here are the places I would like to see that I missed out on before.

 

One, I would like to visit the catacombs. Yes, skeletons and bones are creepy, however this holds significant history and represents a darker time in Europe’s history. It shows how far today’s civilization has come with respects to health and vaccines. The catacombs are made up of 6 million people, known as “The World’s Largest Cemetery.”

I attempted this when I was in Paris, but ran out of time: I want to climb the stairs to the top of Notre Dame. Growing up watching so many Disney movies (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) seeing the Notre Dame Bell Tower is obviously one of my top priorities when I go back.

Pantheon de Paris.Yet again with the creepy burial sites, this is known to be the crypt to some of France’s most known contributors to science and literature: Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marat, Emile Zola, Jean Moulin, Soufflot, Louis Braille, and Marie Curie. The Pantheon was originally built as a church. Under Louis XV there were discrepancies in construction, mainly because of different styles and financial problems, so the Pantheon has its own unique style and architecture to it.

 

A couple others that are on my list are Saint Chapelle and La Conciergerie. Just like anyone else, I’d love the chance to “see it all,” in France, the beautiful French country sides, the vineyards, small, quaint towns, ride a bike down an empty, forgotten road and explore. However, until the day I am able to embark on all of these adventures abroad, I just have to continue to plan and research for my next week to Paris.

Alain Ducasse, Renowned French Chef

When you think of France, a few things come to mind: Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, sitting down for a coffee at a quaint little Cafe, and the beautiful French country side. But we mustn’t forget one important aspect of French culture that can’t be ignored: French cuisine. From the light, airy pastries, the scrumptious macaroons, to the Bouillabaisse, or maybe the Duck à l’Orange, French cuisine is a major part of French culture, and one of the most famous chefs of this generation is Alain Ducasse. 

 

Alain Ducasse is a world renowned French chef. A French native, he has 23 restaurants and 3 inns, creating more of an enterprise out of his own name. He also has created a gastronomy program in Paris for aspiring culinary artists. Ducasse has been active in his restaurants, hotels, culinary arts, and projects for over thirty years. His love for food, culture, and travel has expanded his culinary reach and influence throughout the world. His  restaurants are located in 8 different countries, including the United States.

 

 

 

 

Pictured above is Alain Ducasse at a local farmer’s market in Cubao. He is adamant about using local resources no matter where he is, and frequently immerses himself into a country’s culture.

 

(Photo: Danny Kim)

 

Although he enjoys traveling to exotic and new places in order to further his learning and to find ingredients to implement into his restaurants, he still remembers his French roots, and resorts back to some of his classic recipes. In an interview, Ducasse said that he felt most proud of his Cookpot, (pictured above) which is a slow-cooked casserole of seasonal vegetables. 

 

Since 1972, at age 16, Ducasse has been involved in restaurants. Beginning locally near his home in Southwestern France, he made himself known at a young age, gaining experience through apprenticeships and small jobs, leading him to an assistant position under Roger Verge. His first position as a chef was in 1980, and he hasn’t looked back. Now at age 59, he holds 21 Michelin stars. Even more impressive, Ducasse has already began progressing to the next step: taking French cuisine to Space.