Trip to Book of Kells

Today was field trip day for us in MAETY1!

We visited the Book of Kells in Trinity College’s library. At first glance, the book reminded me of what I know about Islamic Art and the use of images and colors in the early Spanish Catholic Church. We learned that a few young monks had created the book and much artistic genius went into the production of it. We also learned that the book is/had been mostly famous for its art and not so much the text. In fact, some pieces of the gospels weren’t even written in the book.

The pomp and circumstance around the book was evident (deservedly so) and the museum was packed with tourists just for this one, ancient book. Also included in the museum was a two-story, long room of bookshelves and bookshelves stacked with 250,000 of Trinity’s oldest books. Seeing (and smelling) so many special books was wonderfully overwhelming. And the sheer number alone! I now know how much 250,000 of something really is. I had some strange feelings and observations to confront while on this trip. Here we were, looking at/studying an ancient book, and admiring lots of old books in a museum. Books, really? Really, what makes them so special? Are they becoming extinct? I like holding books, taking my own journey in the confines of those book covers. But at the same time, I do enjoy my e-reader. It’s convenient, and full of digital text. I even rely more and more now on the net for my reading for knowledge. I realized that yes, even for me, books are starting to work a little bit more out of my life. Admittedly, I’m probably just some blended-type learner/reader that will remain to favor print text by enjoying my ever-increasing e-reading moments.

A term we heard yesterday with Dr. Dwyer was “Digital Natives.” I wondered how this library might look in 100 or 200 years. Would it be full of “Digital Native” tourist humans that would gawk at these 250,000 bound-space-taker-uppers? It led me to wonder why we go to museums and would a “Digital Native” even have interest in going? Would they wait in line for hours to see special, old, and rare things from past generations? Everything’s on the net–an infinite museum in and of itself.

Something else to note was the painstaking craftsmanship that went into the Book of Kells. I wonder what physical objects we have around us day to day that show just that amount of craftsmanship and would last thousands of years. Most things we work tirelessly on these days appear on screens and are manipulated by our keyboards and computer mice. I link the amount of work that went in to create the Book of Kells to its revolutionary-ness in education and communication. I have to wonder if humans one day will be fascinated by ancient products left by the internet in light of some new technology barking up the tree of the internet.

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