For years FotB has sustained a blunt debate with screen book advocates. We have always hoped for more than head butting. Two recent publications offer a pathway. Books A Living History by Martyn Lyons provides a rich diorama of the most fascinating illustrations expertly arrayed. Captions and text literally dance between with picture-like periods at the right page turning. Triumphal as well is, This is not the end of the book; presenting a stunning conversation between Jean-Claude Carriere and Umberto Eco.
“…never before has anyone developed a full-fledged theory of how, why, and with what effects language evolved from a gestural system to the spoken word.” (blurb)
An old FotB fantasy sees the book as a missile. This precepts sees the pre-cursive hominid habit of throwing rocks as similar to book authoring with its careful calculation and trajectory that launches a work with an intention of stunning readers. The book is thrown across time and cultures. This is not a fully developed scenario.
Between rocks and books there are details such as the advent of language. A useful book providing details is From Hand to Mouth, by Michael Corballis. This work discusses the development of spoken language from origins as panoplies of gestures. This approach provides the bridge between rocks and books as gestures of throwing and tool making that took on symbolic meaning.
An incubation of verbal language across a long evolution of human communication supported primarily by gesture evokes another inherent book pattern. This is a series of manual actions needed to materialize thought. This extrapolation is quickly associated with tool making but could also be extended to gestures that produce signs of meaning.
Here an eerie implication emerges. The long gesture-based incubation of spoken language that then provoked language recording can be compared with a recent transition from counting, to inscription, to keyboard composition. So the origin of language is more than a passing story. Gesture rose to the complexity and utility of language, then gesture as augmented with vocalization was elaborated into speech producing a composite of gestured verbal communication, verbal communication was extended with writing, writing was augmented by recording and recording resulted in products such as books and the web, and these compiled into libraries.
Here was a book art lecture; a soliloquy in a strident voice that was not taxonomically correct and without mention of the strength of the subject to command the stage. With heroic subjects we should find the tools that suit our own work. And with Johanna there are plenty of wrenches to tighten and loosen the course of the future of the book.
The performative role of book transmission is one. Here is the tool to merge print and screen into a single system. The vantage point of paratext, imaging, display surface and end user commodity all in motion together gives us a way forward. Art is fine as far as fine art goes, but give me the strength of insight every time. Johanna is a teacher. She is the Bill Clinton of books to be.