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Re: Was Cuban Bookbinders



Word! Thank you Charles.
This list is for sharing ideas and experiences about book arts, not for
academic deconstruction of people's submissions. Jack's trip was
well-intentioned and well-received (from the sounds of it), not to
mention a challenging and admirable undertaking-- a trip I know I would
have trouble accomplishing, to any country. Whatever your feelings on
Cuba, the main theme I took away from reading about Jack's experience is
that art can trancend borders and politics. Let's keep positive about
the efforts of our fellow book artists (before Peter cuts our thread
off).

"Art is what lifts us above daily life. It makes us more human, more
refined, and even more intelligent. Through art, God constantly clears a
path to our hearts."

Phoebe

Charles wrote:

>         As a graduate with degrees in art-history, minors in
> philosophy and
> general semantics,
> and now a happy book-binder, I find these picky responses to Jack's
> piece
> arrogant and
> self-serving.  Incidentally, Toots, . . ."it is sort of insulting and
> patriarchal" ... the word is
> patronizing.
>         I had a chance to get into an academic post in 1959, but my
> experience
> with the
> sort of petty quibbling I'm seeing here, and that I have witnessed in
> many
> other on-campus
> sessions between faculty and deans gives me pleasure in having
> escaped.
>         The deadliest language I ever encountered occurred in these
> arcane
> departments, and
> the readiness of students to adopt it in their own expressions scared
> me to
> death.  It's
> "eschew obfuscation" and "slay thy neighbor when thou canst," sort of
> attitudes that keep
> ordinary folk at bay.
>         God help the Good Samaritan when he tries to describe his
> encounter to one
> of
> these esthetes!
>         Stay with it, Jack.
>
> ----------
> > From: Jack C. Thompson <tcl@TELEPORT.COM>
> > To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
> > Subject: Was Cuban Bookbinders
> > Date: Friday, June 05, 1998 4:17 AM
> >
> > >From:    Artemis BonaDea <paradux@ALASKA.NET>
> > >Subject: Cuban Bookbinders
> > >From:    Madeleine Fix <fix.3@OSU.EDU>
> > >Subject: Re: Cuban Bookbinders
> >
> > >>Our gift of supplies was a huge success. (snip) We arrived at
> their
> > >>"studio" >>which is located in this grand old colonial building.
> >
> > >-- Why is it a "studio" and not just a studio, no quotation marks?
> >
> > Possibly because it was a poorly appointed workspace serving the
> purpose
> of
> > a studio; we were not there so why question the description?  I know
> the
> > dictionary definition of "studio" but also understand that
> dictionaries
> are
> > woefully lacking in precision.
> >
> > >>(snip) On the covers they glue on string, beads, paper cut-outs,
> anything
> > >>they >>have to create a scene.  Very folk arty, very charming and
> well
> > >>designed.
> >
> > >--  That is where the term folk arts got its definition; from
> indigenous
> > >and/or nonmodernized traditions; of course it was 'folkarty'.
> >
> > I'll let "indigenous" pass without comment, but not "nonmodernized";
>
> define
> > your term.  We may not agree.
> >
> > >>They were so grateful for the materials we sent their way.  You
> and I
> had
> > >>put >>book cloths in their hands.
> >
> > >-- I understand that these people were genuinely grateful for the
> materials
> > >you brought them; however, it is sort of insulting and patriarchal
> to
> > >phrase it as such.  They are peers, not small animals.  I apologize
> at
> my
> > >glibness, but your story of this exchange sounds so very much like
> early
> > >American colonial writings, of a hierarchal assignation of
> aesthetic
> > >creation is completely debatable on a philosophical level; also, it
> is
> > >bizarre to assume such pride to giftgiving.
> >
> > Now, with some trepidation, I will assume that you meant to write
> > "assignment" not "assignation" in the paragraph above.  If you meant
>
> > "assignation" please do not expand on the implied meaning without
> reference
> > to the Kama Sutra.
> >
> > I do not understand what is "insulting and patriarchal" about the
> comment,
> > and I do not believe that this reflects any incapacity to understand
> on
> my
> > part.
> >
> > The Potlatch is was a gift giving tradition among Native Americans
> of the
> > Pacific Northwest (you may have heard of it); the most highly
> respected
> > host of a potlatch was one who gave *everything!* away.  Bizarre?
> Perhaps.
> >
> >
> > When Lewis & Clark wandered west, exploring Thomas Jefferson's
> Louisiana
> > Purchase, they had two portable cast iron corn mills.  Observing
> that
> > Indian women in (if memory serves) a Mandan village made hard work
> of
> > grinding seeds/nuts/grains with stone implements, they left one of
> their
> > corn mills.
> >
> > Upon their return, they discovered that the men of the village had
> > appropriated the mill, broken it apart for the iron, and had
> fashioned
> > hunting tools from the bits.
> >
> > And it did not take long for Indian women to reject native dyes in
> favor
> of
> > Rit dye when those became available.
> >
> > The tenor of your comments suggests that you believe that native
> people
> > should be left to their own devices.  This is not an appropriate
> venue to
> > discuss what that means in terms of water supply, medicine, hygiene,
> or
> > infant mortality.
> >
> > It should be sufficient to recognize that Cuba was once a *modern*
> state
> > with open borders and that it is now, and has for some decades, been
> a
> > totalitarian state without access to many supplies/materials which
> we may
> > take for granted.
> >
> > >>since they don't use cloth covers I said, "maybe this isn't of use
> to
> > >>you."  >>They strongly contradicted me--
> >
> > >GOOD.
> >
> > Give it a break.  You first....
> >
> > >>...and said they will use it to construct their multimedia
> > >>covers.  They knew what they were doing for what they did.
> >
> > >-- WHat do you mean by this statement?  It sounds like their
> artwork is
> > >rather developed styliscally.
> >
> > What is meant is not at all obvious from any earlier statement.
> Gluing
> > strings and beads on grocery bag paper sounds like what my children
> did
> in
> > 2nd & 3rd grade.  I found nothing in the description to suggest
> anything
> > different.
> >
> > >>I had also included half a dozen bone folders.  They had never
> seen
> them
> > >>>>before....  When I say, that you'll hear someday, I am taking
> into
> > >>account >>that the mails are notoriously bad there.
> >
> > >-- So aren't we lucky to have such developed sociological
> technology.
> >
> > Yes, we are lucky.  Not only that, but we have bone to spare for
> making
> > folders and know how to use them in bookbinding, and don't have to
> grind
> > them up to make fertilizer.  The Cuban binders were described as
> having
> 20+
> > years of experience.  That means that they began learning their
> trade
> > almost 20 years after the revolution.
> >
> > So, how many binders survived the revolution?  Who was left to pass
> on
> the
> > trade?  Why do you think Cuban binders were not familiar with bone
> folders?
> >
> > Why do you refer to Cuban binders in terms which an anthropologist
> might
> > use to refer to the inhabitants of, for instance, Tierra del Fuego?
> >
> > (snip)
> >
> > >I apologize for baiting you, but it is exactly this sort of
> patronization
> > >which imposes cultural hierarchies and leads to miscommunication
> and
> > >idolization of Western forms of creation....
> >
> > Artemis BonaDea may accept your apology; I do not.  You do not
> appear to
> > understand the derivation of Western art forms.  Bookbinding, for
> instance,
> > is not an invention imported from Europe to the New World.  It was
> not
> > invented in Europe, but was evolved there into the form which we
> recognize
> > today.
> >
> > And you do not appear to know much about the history of Cuba in the
> 20th
> > century.
> >
> > >Don't be so surprised to find that other cultures have developed
> forms
> of
> > >>creation which are 'folkarty'.  It is these assumptions which are
> not
> > >>necessarily dangerous, but are just simply difficult to justify on
> a
> > >>philosophical level.
> >
> > Now *you* are being condescending.
> >
> > >(snip)...the term diversity implies a sharing of aesthetics without
> any
> > >>moral/judgmental hierarchies imposed on the part of those who hold
> the
> > >presumed >power.
> >
> > According to my dictionary (_Webster's New World Dictionary of the
> American
> > Language_) diversity means: "1. quality, state, fact, or instance of
>
> being
> > diverse; difference.  2. variety; multiformity."
> >
> > There is nothing in this definition which implies or requires
> sharing;
> > there is only recognition of difference or deviation from a point of
>
> view;
> > if there is no point of view there can be no difference....
> >
> > In closing, I hope that you are a student, not a faculty member.
> >
> > Jack
> >
> > Jack C. Thompson
> > Thompson Conservation Lab.
> > 7549 N. Fenwick
> > Portland, OR  97217
> >
> > 503/735-3942  (voice/fax)
> >
> > www.teleport.com/~tcl


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