Old ways to do new things
On looking for inspiration in the past (and the present)
Before I get started: The last discussion thread was so fun, let’s do another one:
Last week, Mason Currey (author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work) shared a post about Alexander Pope’s paid subscription model and then Anne Trubek wrote about other historical publishing subscription models:
Studying subscription publishing is one way to reimagine American publishing. It helps us expand our imagination…
True of my own work: it’s often looking back into the past rather than around at the present that expands my sense of what can be done, and gives me the most stuff I can use.
The subtitle of Anne’s piece was, “Old ways to do new things.” I thought that was a terrific phrase, and might even make a good book title. So I made the lifted type collage at the the top of this letter.
I often make a new collage on the right side of a new spread in my notebook, which means there’s a blank page facing it. Doing this almost always leads me to make another collage, as a kind of companion to the first piece. (See: “One thing leads to another.”)
The obvious choice for a companion was the inverse of the original statement: “New ways to do old things.” I had just enough of the security envelope and the yellow background paper to pull another one off.
Once I had these two pieces together, two other possibilities presented themselves: “Old ways to do old things” and “New ways to do new things.”
At first, I tried to rank these possibilities in my mind. But I don’t think there is any ranking. Each one can be good, depending on the situation and context.