Friday, February 1, 2013

Oak by William Bryant Logan

After reading Dirt, I sought out other books by the author.  I think I connected with Oak a bit more than Dirt because of the results of wood seem to yield an abundance of objects and the connection with imagination and making.  A few excerpts from the book that I find the most interesting:

"In most tribes, only a woman and her daughters had the right to use her mortars and pestles.  When she died, one of her mortars would be broken and buried upside down."

"The hollows in them have been used as post office boxes around the world, and people have hidden precious items in them."

"...the oak often bearing red galls, which were the source of red dye for royal robes."

"...oak itself became the prime materials of the crafts that helped hominids become humans."

"The climate of the emerging Holocene made the boat and home important, and oak became the prime material for both."  Walls, frames, doors, furniture, palisades, barrels, looms, tools, coffins, boats, tanning, ink, fences (henges), roadways, bridges, boats.  Fire for warmth, fuel, cook, pottery to contain the grains.  Acorns/nuts for food/bread.

Objects as offerings - back to Neolithic, throw objects in the fen from a wood island.  "There were until modern times more than three thousand "holy" wells, springs, pools, and bogs in Ireland alone.  Clothing, pins, jewelry, buttons, buckles, brooches, coins and little stones were regularly thrown in to them or piled or hung beside them."

"It was the first durable material in the West that could be transformed by individuals into shapes that they saw in their minds."

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