Friday, August 17, 2012


Think of your favorite philosophical question... not the one that you're absolutely sure about.. but the kind that you can see either side as a possibility... having merit or not... or just impossible to decide... too much grey and not black and white. It's pretty confusing just reading about it, huh? That is what you call a dilemma.

   What's an example of a dilemma? There's always the question what is art? There are lots of answers to that one. And at Penland School of Crafts, where I sometimes live and work, when someone brings it up, you hear a low groan throughout the room. Nobody wants to get into a discussion about it, because there's just no agreement on the answer. So what's another example of a dilemma? How about the question: do you leave old books to be ignored then rot and molder away, or do you cut them into tiny pieces and sew and glue them into newly made books? The dumpster or the scissors and paste-pot? That's what I've done in making this week's Book of the Week. It's called Dilemma and I chose the scissors and paste-pot.

   I dismantled an old book titled The Readers Encyclopedia, copyright 1965... I found it like this, headed for the trash bin at the local library...

When the urge to do surgery gets too strong the book begins to look like this...

Pages come out and are showcased in a way that they are seen and enjoyed just for themselves.
This illustration is a copy of the original title page of Don Quixote, 1605. How beautiful is that?! Then it all becomes a new book for writing notes, journaling, daily living, collecting the snippets of a life lived and windmills tilted. Among the blank pages are some earthy colograph prints and the excised pages from The Readers Encyclopedia.

And like Richard Minsky, you begin the process of altering the text from The Readers Encyclopedia pages to become a story of your own by circling the words you like and marking through the ones you don't.

 "...survives...after...studying..and traveling...into the magic lore...of..knowledge... and ...the...story. The Poem...divine...poem." And so on.

So that's my Dilemma... a change in the status quo to write my own story. What's yours?
p.s. I'm still not sure that altering the book was the right thing to do...