Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Something Old, Something New...

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a full day book binding class. Since we sell rare books, we would both like to be able to make custom protective and beautiful clamshell boxes for our customers who desire them (and it would be extremely satisfying work as well). If we choose to pursue this goal it will, of course, take years to learn the proper skills... but since we are still fairly young, I think it will be an exciting prospect for us.

The day was so much fun.. it seems to whiz by in a moment. Right now I am reading the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience... and learning this art was definitely a 'flow' experience for me. We learned about caring for and protecting fine bindings and their construction, and we made a simple book ourselves.

It is such an old world trade going back to the invention of the book itself.  In our fast-paced world where we jump from one thing to another, its nice to still have trades such as these that take craftsmanship and detail.

Today I watched a BBC documentary on Youtube called The Virtual Revolution (while aiming to multi-task about seven other things of course). It is all about the history of the web and how it has changed the world over the last twenty years. It's a fabulous documentary series that I highly recommend... and you can watch it here if you like. 

Anyway, it got me thinking about what it must have been like when the printing press was first invented. Its impact must have felt somewhat like what we're now experiencing with the internet except on a slower scale. I can hardly imagine a word without books (and I have a fairly active imagination). Books have opened the world and allowed people to share ideas in so many ways, its effects are incalculable. Kids today must have the same feeling about the internet, probably thinking in their minds 'how did people function or find information before the internet??' Sometimes I wonder the same thing myself.

On another tangent (thats one of the impacts of our digital age.. we tend to not be able to focus on one thing... although our connections do make sense on a meaningful level - as you'll see here), I watched a great TED lecture the other day called 'When Ideas Have Sex' by Matt Ridley. Its all about how the exchange of ideas creates a more interesting and complex world. Well, that's my little summary anyway. If you want to know more, watch the video. 

But getting back to my original thought about book binding... I think an important thing that we really need to think about in our present world is how to keep the wonderful things of the past, while still going on into our bright future. Its like the old adage, 'Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold'. We need to be careful in our age of technology, that we become a more complex and interesting species and not the opposite (mindless machines that can be controlled by our media and advertising). We need to make history, but also preserve it. We need to take the best ideas of the past and combine them with the best ideas of the future.

Sometimes I think as our society strives for progress, we need to stop and think a bit more about 'what are we progressing to?' (we should probably do this more on an individual level as well). We're cutting down trees and polluting the environment so that we can live these comfortable lives (and I'm right there as part of the problem).. but we don't stop to think about what we are giving up long term for our short-term present circumstances. Or while our urban centers are a mecca for the exchange of ideas, do we give up our connection with nature in the process when all we see is cement? Do we know where our food comes from or how to stay healthy without relying on synthetic drugs? Do we lose those opportunities for 'flow' experiences because of our fast-paced lives? These are just some questions I'm pondering this evening. There may not be immediate answers and perhaps there are no specific answers. Perhaps the important thing is just to ask the question...

1 comment:

Dionne said...

Oooh, book binding! And how cool is it that your man did it with you!

And so true about progress. Sometimes progress is not so good, especially when it means that we have to sacrifice things so important!


Related Posts with Thumbnails