jaunt to the flea market

I went to the flea market yesterday. Not only did my pilgrimage to the land of moldy paper goods and toughened vets instantly erase all feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, it also led me to a book. My 1919, second edition copy of ‘Gregg Speed Studies’, is written by John Robert Gregg and, surprisingly enough, is published by the Gregg Publishing Company. Contrary to modern associations, the text does not dissect the field of methamphetamine, but rather the study of shorthand. As I type on a computer, it’s almost impossible to imagine that shorthand was viewed  not only as a skill, but a modern technology. People of the early 20th century were machines, and if properly trained, could function successfully within the larger professional sphere. But still, the pure art of shorthand remains. Gregg’s book contains lovely photo plates of women and men endlessly producing perfect ‘O-Hooks’ and ‘INGs’, all while maintaining their bodies in the proper position.

The majority of the book, though, is devoted to Phrase-Writing, which is well-described as a (minute) art within an art. While the Phrase-Writing generously sprinkled throughout  Gregg’s appears to be a hybrid between Klingon and Hebrew, it’s actually just the joining of English words, with the purpose of eliminating the loss of time occasioned by lifting the pen or in passing from one shorthand form to another.

While sifting through antiquated objects, one simultaneously sifts through the history and knowledge that these objects posses. Whether I alter discarded objects and hope  to revitalize them, preserve old things, or create ephemera/paper goods, I wish to follow the tradition that is beautifully exemplified in Gregg’s Speed Studies.



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