I love old books. By old, I don’t mean Catcher in the Rye. By old I mean that if they were printed on paper that it’s probably too new. That’s not entirely true, but you get the meaning. I’m talking leather and vellum.

I remember almost the exact moment it happened. I was in my first day of Medieval Art: the lecture. I was excited, but I thought it was going to all be Brueghel and buttresses. No Brueghel, it turned out: he was just a smidge later. [I was disappointed because I was hoping for some butt-sniffing demons. Oh well.] There were a lot of buttresses, to be sure, but there were a ton of more interesting things.

Illuminated manuscripts. My god, they absolutely seduced me. And there was so much more to it than just beautiful, strange, intricate illustrations. It could have taken ten years to produce…just this single book. A team of scribes spending untold hours bent over benches, their ink freezing in the winter. The unbelievable focus it must have taken. The idea of taking over from a dead or dying scribe, or worse an illustrator. And 1000 sheep or calves to make the paper. It’s just beyond my comprehension, especially in the world of on-demand printing.

Anyway, Lindisfarne sealed my undergraduate fate. I ended up with an English degree with a concentration in Medieval Literature. That’s marketable.

I remember when I was gearing up to direct Macbeth. I had heard that the University of Iowa held a second edition of the First Folio, the book that put together most of Shakespeare’s plays. I went to see it. I had been in the special collections room untold times for other research, but I never knew they had this thing. Probably a good thing too. It was spellbinding. The history that this thing held—history that I didn’t know, surely, but still, this book had been held, read, words underlined, pages removed, turned by saliva-slicked fingers. Somebody who lived in 1632 London had held this and read this and, perhaps, loved Shakespeare more than I. Captivating.

I began this post because I came across something called the Voynich Manuscript. This thing has captivated me and, if I had more time, I would totally dive into it. Alas, I have reached my word quota.

On to another day.