I have always loved the physicality of books. The first thing I do with a new book is feel it’s feel and then I put my face inside and draw in a deep breath of the paper and the the ink. (I know. I know. But.) Then I look at the construction and then they typeface and only then do I check out words.
One summer, about 20 years ago, I spent a summer immersed in a studio class with 20 other studies with a book conservationist, who taught us how to make many kinds of books from scratch. So, that said, you can see why this became such a big deal for me.
In the castle museum, there is a new display of two large rooms of “The most beautiful books in the world.”
One room was filled with religious books as far back as the 10th Century! These are thousand year old hand drawn books!
And the other room was full of atlases and science books, most from the 15th Century. You can see the end of the Dark Ages and the dawn of the Enlightenment in the human handwriting from so long ago, right in front your eyes!
I was the only person these rooms; there was not even a guard watching these world treasures, any one of which is surely priceless.
Being in there alone in silence for an hour with the living philosophy of my intellectual ancestors, and the unimaginable colors, and the craftsmanship of every hand drawn letter put down by a living-breathing human being across the centuries, and present at the record the birth of careful observational science was for me a religious experience.
These illuminations: I love it.
I am continually surprised at the diversity of gifts the Camino gives to me.
I feel a kinship with these Masters. I want to go back (in my amateur way) to making books again.
And here be dragons…