“The light of yesterday brightens today and shines on the path to tomorrow.”
They didn’t use that one yesterday, but it was impressive how many of the advertisers during the Super Bowl took us into the world of high school mottos. We were told that a road is a wonderful thing, but it’s someone else’s idea. “No feet have wandered where you walk,” another commercial told us. We were reminded that we are unique, and a little later we were told to reflect on what we were meant to be. An outfit which has told us before that Best is a Destination but Better is a Process, told us this time around that What Makes US Better Makes YOU Better.
If that’s the wave of advertising at big events, I guess the Book Fair had better start pulling its socks up. We have HAD mottos, but they tended to run more along the lines of “If You Have Any Money Left, You’re Not Having a Good Time.”
Frankly, the high school graduating class motto is not a bad model for us, since we ALSO concentrate on yesterday, today, and tomorrow. (This is one of the rules for high school class mottos. My own mentioned only Yesterday and Today, and there was some question of whether we would be allowed to graduate.) We could take the one I made up back there a few paragraphs: “The books of yesterday brighten today and shine on the path to tomorrow.”
But that won’t really sell books to the people who come looking for more gritty material. For them we’d have to use something like “The angry political books of yesterday still growl today and will go on grumbling tomorrow.” As a book donor pointed out to me, “Here’s a book that’s over a hundred years old, and it’s demanding school reform. You could put it in Current Events.”
We don’t actually have a Current Events category, since, after all, every book is a current event. (And that wouldn’t be a bad motto either.) We have some old pamphlets of jokes written for you to add to your minstrel show routine, prompting another fine possibility, “Yesterday’s laughs are today’s frowns and tomorrow’s puzzled looks.”
I was just reading a book which contains three or four essays on how a noted publisher of paperback porn in the forties and fifties affected musical culture in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. “Yesterday’s smut is today’s chart topper and tomorrow’s dissertation topic.”
As noted, not many Super Bowl advertisers went so blatantly down the high school motto path, but instead gave us those lines that might have been delivered by a Commencement speaker. We could instead use something like the classic, “Every book is new to someone who hasn’t read it.” We’d need to be a little more flowery, taking our tone from the car ads. “Take your mind through uncharted territory; let your eyes take you to words and worlds unknown.”
Better be careful. Much more of this and I won’t be able to function in the working day world. I’ll be standing at the vending machine intoning “Go, little dollar, and convey me to an adventure of flavor and of salt.” In the advanced state of the disease, I will be doing it in iambic pentameter, and looking around for a celebrity to cast in my role.
No, I expect in the end, if we ever do have a motto or slogan for the Book Fair, it’ll be something more basic and less inspirational, like the old standby, “The only book you regret is the one you didn’t buy.”