By “iconic book,”
we refer to a text revered primarily as an object of power rather
than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. Consider
the following examples from contemporary political and religious
and judges around the world take their oaths of office while placing
their hands on Bibles, Qur’ans, or national constitutions.
Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims pay large sums to support dedicated
scribes to hand copy the scriptures of those traditions, even
in this era of computerized publishing.
artists devote years of their careers to illustrating collector’s
editions of Christian Bibles and Buddhist sutras.
of various traditions clothe their scriptures in vestments like
those of a guru or priest.
- The U.S.
government displays a hand-written copy of its constitution in
a national shrine, the rotunda of the National Archives in Washington,
D.C., and protects it in a bomb-proof vault.
and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave,
touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. Works
of art, commercial logos, and especially university public relations
departments utilize images of books to evoke connotations of learning,
knowledge and wisdom.