Ever thought how useless we are?
Ancient man would look down at us and think … ‘He cannot catch his own dinner’
… or that we cannot make our own tools.
We would be a laughing stock as the term goes.
Yet we think we are so slick, so modern on our keyboards and buttons. And yet know nothing of what far brighter and wider minds have left to us on the printed page from decades and centuries in the past, of art, architecture, engineering and how things are made. These last two decades have seen the loss of so much human achievement, silicon and the electron have put paid to that ! And yes, accessibility is wonderful, but also there is a slower more human dimension we are losing, particularly younger people need to re-set their priorities, their values; they never will. In some ways they ‘undersell themselves’. So little is transferred from generation to generation, as if they are mocking their parents, their ancestry.
postscript … How lucky I was growing up, skilled working class household, ended up at a quite remote off the beaten track village but with some books, encyclopedias, workshop full of tools and garden front and back, decent countryside, stunning coastline. My Dad was a practical man I am glad to say and going out into the remoter parts of the county at weekends for his job gave me a view I’d never have achieved otherwise. With a clever Auntie (who made the effort to correct a late reader, school much like the GPs ie blind to my situation) and a grandmother who was a wonderful cook and generally of high standards. My Dad was the right man for me, grounded, intolerant of pretence and silliness; praise was scant but he expected a manly authentic effort. So basically I was self reliant at occupying myself and achieved lots by age eighteen which is when he died if cancer and the house sold and me into digs; which actually wasn’t all bad, I could get the bus into the local city and visit bookshops! One thing that has taken me forty years to realise is that I should have actually taken my so-called mother to Court; she always did tell me she wished she never had me or that I should / could be put into a home, likewise forty years to realise she would not say that in front of my Dad. I should have told him.
I’m baffled when I visit a house and books are not to hand, I was always dipping into the fantastically illustrated Caxton Encyclopedias of the late sixties and seeing the best of World Art (still do occasionally) … this is what bugs me about the web, the paucity ie lack of new and interesting images and knowledge that is served to me. I have to go seek it. Viewing the web through our little pinhole is not all its cracked up to be, too much is ephemeral, too little of what has stood the test of time. Kids today are blind to so much, as young adults can barely use their hands, struggling like infants.
For years a remaindered bookshop was my main source, latterly a couple of charity shops are useful hunting grounds for £1 gems. I even spent £50 on a dozen Time Life boxed sets of classical recordings, merely to get the notes and booklets that accompanied them, photographs I’d never seen and playlists of the best; to own them as objects.