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From Ian Brown’s, Sixty: A Diary of my Sixty-First Year:
The redeeming trait of old age—or of aging into old age as the gerontologists put it—is that finally, you can begin to look at the unlived life and appreciate it is still life. If you take the trouble to write down the details, paying attention to the truth, and not the official version, you get a second chance to live it. That is the real discipline of getting older: to force myself to pay attention to details, as if they matter still.
I’m not exactly sure where middle age is. I would guess that once they close the cover, they can take a total of your years and establish that mid-point. In our culture it’s been fixed close to the age of 50. If that’s true, then I appreciate the optimism.
Truth is, those of us who have reached this age, or beyond, have developed a history to look back on and we are very conscious of the context in which those details exist. And, if you’ve faced your mortality, and the trauma that comes with it, those details become very clear. If you’ve faced it twice, then they’re clearer still.
Yet, as clear to us the history, the more conscious we become of the present. Not only of where we are, but where we can be. Although the marketplace, and society, considers us done, we’re just not quite yet finished. And there’s still such an incredible amount to see.
Ian Brown has written a book about his own details. There is humor, observation, and sometimes melancholy. Some of his insights are common felt.
I would recommend the book to those of a common age although anyone can pick it up and enjoy his writing. But worth a read…and a bit of thought…
A Single Book Can Alter The Strongest Of Foundations
Installation artist Jorge Mendez Blake creates a powerful brick sculpture titled “The Castle”. The intimidating wall, formidable and erect, loses its symmetry and forms a rift at the point where a book it inserted at its root.
The potent power of knowledge, held in books, can fracture even the backbone of a monument if it’s foundation is formed from it. The brick wall signifies an obstacle against knowledge, the symmetry of its aligned bricks representing the faultless and exemplary laws, rules and regulations that at once come undone at the hands of a book.
– via The Design Dome
[h/t to Library Journal for the lead-in..]
…time to make some choices…
[h/t to thisisnthappiness…of course…]
Words and Pictures by Grant Snider
From The Guardian:
Bindings made between the 15th and 18th centuries often contain hidden manuscript fragments that can be much older. Bookbinders used to cut up and recycle handwritten books from the middle ages, which had become old-fashioned following the invention of printing. These fragments, described by Kwakkel as “stowaways from a distant past”, are within as many as one in five early modern age printed books.
Access to such “hidden libraries” has been made possible by macro x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (MA-XRF), which allows pages to be read without removing the bookbinding.
(Dr Erik) Kwakkel added: “Much of what we’re finding is 15th or 14th century, but it would be really nice to have Carolingian material, so from the ninth century or even older. It would be great to find a fragment of a very old copy of a Bible, the most important text in the middle ages. Every library has thousands of these bindings, especially the larger collections. If you go to the British Library or the Bodleian [in Oxford], they will have thousands of these bindings. So you can see how that adds up to a huge potential.”
Physicist and astronaut Ron McNair, who perished in 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated seconds after launch, was the second African-American person to fly into space. He is remembered by his brother Carl in a short film, Eyes on the Stars, and how the power of a young boy’s curiosity can overcome cultural stereotypes about race, law enforcement and even librarians:
We knew from an early age that my brother Ron was different. When he was nine years old, Ron decided to take a mile walk from our home down to the library — which was, of course, a public library, but not so public for black folks, when you’re talking about 1959 in segregated South Carolina.
So as he was walking through the library, all these folks were staring at him, because it was white folk only, and they were looking at him and saying, you know, “Who is this Negro?”
He found some books, and he politely positioned himself in line to check out. Well, this old librarian says, “This library is not for coloreds.” He said, “I would like to check out these books.” She says, “Young man, if you don’t leave this library right now, I’m going to call the police!” He just propped himself up on the counter and sat there and said, “I’ll wait.”
So she called the police and subsequently called my mother. The police came down, two burly guys, and say, “Well, where’s the disturbance?” She pointed to the nine-year-old boy sitting up on the counter. One of the policemen says, “Ma’am, what’s the problem?”
So my mother, in the meanwhile, she comes down there, and she’s praying the whole way: “Lordy, Jesus, please don’t let them put my child in jail!” My mother asked the librarian, “What’s the problem?” The librarian said, “He wanted to check out the books. You know that your son shouldn’t be down here.”
The police officer said, “Why don’t you just give the kid the books?” And my mother said, “He’ll take good care of them.” Reluctantly, the librarian gave Ron the books, and my mother said, “What do you say?” He said, “Thank you, ma’am.”
[Above via Brain Pickings and the essay, Eyes on the Stars…]
From The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program of the University of Buffalo:
Dr. McNair was the first in his family to graduate from college, as well as to earn a PhD. His academic and subsequent career successes, dimmed only by his untimely death, serve as a beacon to the current generation of college students who, for many reasons, may feel that graduate education, and particularly, the doctoral degree, are inaccessible.