Saturday, April 14, 2012

Publishing Gone Wild

What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths.
 We fetch it from our neighbors,
we kindle it at home,
 we communicate it to others,
 and it becomes the property of all.

From ancient scrolls and medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-readers,
the printed word illuminates our lives.
 Indulge me, dear readers, while I trace our publishing history...just a bit.

From the Manuscript Book mural by John White Alexander (1896),
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D. C.

Manuscript-writing, a labor-intensive effort,
 often damaged the health of monks assigned to scriptoriums.

Only try to do it yourself
and you will learn how arduous is the writer's task.
 It dims your eyes, makes your back ache,
 and knits your chest and belly together.
It is a terrible ordeal for the whole body.
~~10th Century Prior

Bible, 1407 A.D., Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England

 For centuries, an illiterate population gathered knowledge from the spoken word...
until Luther translated the Bible from Latin to German,
 Gutenberg invented the 15th-century printing press,
 and ordinary people could hold books in their hands
to read the printed word for themselves.

A hilarious youtube video about monks learning to adapt
 from paper scroll to book still makes me laugh:
Medieval Helpdesk at the top of my sidebar shows four versions.
Click on the fourth (bottom) one for a 2-minute version with English subtitles.

+   +   +

Fast forward to the 21st century.
 Thanks to the invention of the computer, everyone and anyone's a publisher.
I haven't yet warmed to the Kindle fire...
I still like to hold the printed page in my hand, re-read the pictures,
 and fold them into shelves where I can view beautiful titles on spines.
Part of my comforting decor...

And, I still like to go back to the handmade book now and then,
 teaching my grandsons to print their words and stories on paper,
 stitch pages into centuries-old-style signatures, and add covers.

And collect handmade letterpress books from Convivio Bookworks,
 and handmade book art pieces from Waveland Studio.

So many words, so little time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Rising

Long ago and faraway, my beloved and I sat
in this beautiful place for Evening Vespers.
We were invited to sit with the choir
 behind the red lamps lit with evenglow
where we could join the a capella singers in song.
It was an enchanting experience,
a splendid juxtaposition of ancient ritual in a modern city.

St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

Today, we'll sing in a smaller sanctuary
with less history and awe-inspiring architecture.
Nonetheless, our hearts will be full.

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been;
Love is come again like wheat a-rising green.
John M. C. Crum, 1872-1958
French Carol

'Tis the spring of souls today;
 Christ has burst his prison,
And from three days' sleep in death
As a sun has risen,
All the winter of our sins,
 Long and dark, is flying,
From his light, to whom is giv'n
 Laud and praise undying.
 John of Damascus, c. 696-754