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Re: Philosophy of Bookbinding

On Wed, 30 Sep 1998, Duncan Campbell wrote:
> I feel that there is more to say on this but I am back to where I began in
> that I don't have a solid grasp on what it is specifically.

I'm no bookbinder, but I've been following this thread, and anticipating
your point, above.

All of this reminds me of the first, originary philosophy of art/craft
(tekne means both in classical Greek). Plato's Ion is a very short dialog
in which Our Hero (Socrates) asks the poet Ion to explain what poetry IS.
Ion, of course, can't answer; he can only tell Socrates what he does, and
how he does it.

Of course, Socrates/Plato goes on to give the "right" answer, but that's
less important than the process, which is the Philosophy of
art/craft/poetry/bookbinding, now commonly known as Aesthetics.

Now when someone tells me they teach a college-level course on the
Philosophy of Dance (yes, I met such a person once), I understand they're
not giving me their "take" on Dance, as in: "yeah, well, my philosophy of
dance is havin' a good time, dude." Rather, that they take Dance (or
Bookbinding) as a historical concept and attempt to extract from that
concept something wider, based on the discipline of Philosophy - much as
Plato proposed.

So the idea would then be to look closely at the string of statements by
bookbinders, and ask what wider views are hidden behind them - what kernel
of truth they contain. For instance, I'm reading a book about the Arts and
Crafts Movement in America (Art and Labor, by Eileen Boris). It raises
interesting questions about how crafts were used in America at the turn of
the century - say how immigrants were brought into craft classes to
practice certain crafts that were "appropriate" to them as women, as
foreigners, as poor people. My question is, how would the organizers
of these workshops justify what they were doing? what kind of bookbinding
would they have taught, and why? And what wider truth is hidden/revealed
by their own "philosophy?"

But it's only an instance, and I've gone on too long. You get the picture.
Paul Werner, New York City

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