Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

Printing It

I have too many books. (Or too few bookcases, but it would be a bad idea for me to own any more bookcases unless I also owned a house to put them in.) Most of My sf and fantasy are already in storage, and I have about three shelf-feet of books I've bought in the past year or so, sitting in boxes or on tables or otherwise scattered around the house. So right now I'm going through my bookcases, pulling a few to put in storage that I don't expect to have a sudden urge to consult in the next few years. Some of these are old friends: The Art of Literary Research and The Scholar Adventurers, inspiring introductions to the career I thought I would follow, twenty odd years ago. Will it Make a Theater?, a book on how to turn cheap and unlikely spaces into magic dramatic spaces; The Life and Times of Chaucer. Books on Heraldry; a social history of Greenwich Village in the early 20th Century; style guides; books on programming languages I don't use and probably never will. Many, many more.

And on a bottom shelf, an old friend --- one that definitely won't be going in a box. Printing It, subtitled "A guide to Graphic Techniques for the Impecunious". Because I was able to persuade my high school principal that letting me do what I wanted was better than having one of the only three National Merit finalists they had ever had drop out, I spent my senior year in high school at The Evergreen State College. Evergreen's a special place, founded in the 1960s and fueled by idealism about holistic approaches to learning. Rather than individual courses, Evergreen has "Coordinated Studies Programs", where all of a student's work is focused around a single theme or idea or period, though many subjects may be involved. My first term I took a program with a large writing component, that had as another aspect studying the history of the book. The final term project was to publish something you'd produced.

This was before desktop publishing; I'm not sure anyone who's grown up with Macs and laser printers can appreciate just how daunting an idea this was. Printing It, which was assigned reading, made it possible. Looking through it now, it remains a delightful book, chock full of good advice and "you can do it!" spirit. My booklet was offset printed from camera-ready copy I pasted-up by hand, and I stitched each copy by hand. Sadly, I don't have a copy any more. But it was a great experience, and as I think about it, is probably one of the main sources of my sensibilities about keeping things simple.

Tags: geek, meditations
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