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Was Cuban Bookbinders
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Was Cuban Bookbinders
- From: "Jack C. Thompson" <tcl@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 03:17:46 -0800
- Message-id: <199806051015.DAA15602@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.edu>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: On the web at http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey" <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>From: Artemis BonaDea <paradux@xxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject: Cuban Bookbinders
>From: Madeleine Fix <fix.3@xxxxxxx>
>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
>-- 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
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
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
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--
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
>>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?
>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
And you do not appear to know much about the history of Cuba in the 20th
>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
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
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 C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR 97217