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Saving Our History
Crackpot Mailbox: A Dialogue with J Irkutyanin

Book Preservation/Hello

Greetings Mr. Lafond,

This is James, known on twitter and SALO as Irkutyanin, and I have been encouraged by [redacted] or [redacted] on Salo to write to you so I hope that the message doesn’t come as unwanted.

I had first heard about you through my listening to Myth of the 20th century and have since explored your works, particularly those concerning Plantation America, which have been the podcasts, and blogs I have most thoroughly enjoyed. From what I understand we are doing similar things in different subjects, the total capitulation of American Sovietology and Eastern European history has mirrored our decay in historical self understanding excepting small independent holdouts which are frequently the ones more isolated from or by the US Academic machine.

In my field’s case, America supported all of these nationalist or separatist movements on different levels, and the English speaking world is second only perhaps to the French in the amount of texts and histories it produced from the White and partisan movements and their children. In addition a lot of CIA and other DoD officials wrote their dissertations frequently on Russian History or the political angles of the Bolshevik revolution in a candor that doesn’t penetrate General works on the subject for obvious reasons. When I realized the rump of Russian studies were populated only by hostile ethnic groups or masochists of the worst variety I left, but not before pausing to reflect. I had bought or even picked up rare works about Russia, Eastern Europe and eastern Christian theology for free or dollars at “friends of the library” book sales, or when a professor cleared out his or her office, discarding the books they didn’t read or didn’t have any attachment to.

Slowly, I noticed a trend, I would pick up a book from the shelves about a topic in Russian History and hit had not been checked out since the 90’s or longer, and that often, books would be subtracted from library use altogether. The death of the American library is a documented phenomenon, but the scale of what is disappearing is never brought to focus because it is too large and to fragmentarily documented to be understood as the hollowing out of American learning that it is. In college and grad school, you are not only limited by the campus political culture but also the professor’s syllabus to limit the scope of what you read. Even grad school programs have a set list of books that require near memorization and set the tone for any “independent” work you could do, which will often be canned in review or neutered into something that fits guidelines, the result being student disengagement with books kept by the university.

When I realized this, I set out to build a library of Russian and Eastern European materials out of the libraries still kind enough to move their unread books to an annex (where no students really go) before they dump them entirely. What I do is that I take a phone with geniusscan installed and I photograph these books through the scanner which turns it into a pdf file, then I take them and edit them in Adobe. This is a time consuming process, I had started with copyright safe books which are under Library of India on internet archive, but I moved on to uploading these books onto libgen and then mirroring them, on top of a hard drive I have. If I had the resources I would print out of a press, but for now I’m just electronic.

I decided to build a catalog of everything I’ve done on SALO, with links to books in the “library” I’ve been making. It will be huge when all things are said and done, I’ve collected hundreds of books this way, I’m still collecting from rare collections and annexes in libraries which is why I haven’t updated in a while is I’m planing how the section on Russian theology is going to be organized and include. I also work outside of academia now which is mildly slowing things down but it’s a slow store in a no horse town. I’ve gone to courthouses and record collections in county museums for some of my own local history and repeated the process, though most Russian and Eastern European collections are either in library, in the Hoover institute as documents or fragments scattered around the entire country. Often I utilize Worldcat to find a rare book and it leads me to discoveries that are not listed on Worldcat.

Do ask any questions you may have about what I do, I’m a big fan of your work, and God knows that what I’m doing needs to be replicated and extended in all fields as a method to undermine universities

I hope this email is well received and is an adequate explanation of self,

Take care out there!

I’d have no problems at all with you mentioning me or what I’m doing or have said.

If you need a handle @Irkutyanin1 is what I use to communicate publicly.

I think it’s only going to be enthusiasm from outside or else the extremely rare university faculty who have acute awareness and concern that people are killing their field.

It will take some time, but I will continue to add volumes from time to time to libgen and other platforms and create a catalogue site map for what I have photocopied and uploaded.

I’ve already started here:

J Irkutyanin.


My observation is that capitalism is bad for books, with what sells constantly pushing aside what doesn't.

What does sell is amnesia, the nectar of forget, the ambrosia of idiocy which sooths empty minds with that which will not threaten to fill their rigid capacity. What sells is diversionary reading.

Ironically, what does not sell is our cultural and historical memories, our histories our myths our long ago ancestral gifts. Once every idiot was taught how to read he still remained an idiot. Therefore simple economics will adjust reality so that the bookshelves in stores and libraries will be spilling over with banal diversions, and history and other important works will be buried or crowded out.

This effects public libraries, as books which are not checked out are withdrawn to make room for new books, constantly insuring that that which most needs to be read will not be available in hard copy. I once lived with a librarian who would bring me history books that were forced off the shelves by urban fiction. In such libraries the pressure to be socially relevant in an increasingly illiterate age has converted their function to the point where they focus on providing internet pornography to the homeless.

Two years ago I was told by two pubic universities that I could not read at their libraries because I was not on their staff of enrolled as a student.

I am inclined to think that the core cause of the loss of content in libraries is the asinine logic of modernity which declares every man and woman a potential genius and then creates a vast class of literate morons without the capacity to read critically, fating our collective library to become weighted towards the expectations of the idiot.

I am thrilled with appreciation for the work of J Irkutyanin and have used much primary source material archived on PDF for the Plantation America series. While the simplistically banal mechanics of capitalism and civic service will insure the obscurity and extinction of important books, other, more ruthless methods will be required to draw a dark curtain before the work you are salvaging—so beware, Sir. You have powerful enemies.

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