Lost arts

I ordered a book, “The Lost Art of Finding Our Way,” and the algorithm suggested some interesting addenda. Several how-tos about navigating sans map or compass. Several Robert Macfarlane books which I hadn’t known about and will definitely acquire. Also, “The Odyssey.”

There are many lost arts and a lot of nostalgia for some of them. Which ones do we neglect to mourn? I don’t know of anyone taking up the lost art of oral epic storytelling. That would be an extremely interesting project, if you could get people to sit still long enough to listen.

There must also be a number of lost arts that truly are lost to both practice and memory. Another interesting project, to uncover a few that are somehow, somewhere recorded. I’m reminded of the section in 1491 where Charles C. Mann writes about the Inkan khipu–intricately knotted strings that conveyed information–“the world’s sole intrinsically three-dimensional written documents…In addition, they may have been among the few examples of ‘semasiographic’ writing–texts that, unlike written English, Chinese, and Maya, are not representations of spoken language.”

Like species, arts arise on Earth and eventually, nearly all disappear.

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