When developing this website, I created the Paper Shaper category to celebrate this wondrous material. This lengthy praise of paper by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer about sums it up, referring to many of the main touch points, literally and figuratively, of paper in a human life, at least until recently.
Of course, we can now do all these things on a screen. But quite apart from the tactile variety and loveliness of paper, and its sheer romance (to the papetophiles among us at least), it’s not yet sure that the digital world is better at storing information than paper, over the long run.
In theory we have an endless range of clouds, discs, servers and other storage options, but in practice, it’s too soon to entrust to these the preservation of documents we want to keep. ‘Keep’ meaning accessible in tens, hundreds or thousands of years. I read of a writer preparing to meet Steve Jobs and wanting to track down an email exchange they’d had a decade earlier. Apparently nobody in the Apple machinery could get at those emails – emails sent by Steve Jobs!
Anyhow, paper sings its own praises when it sits lightly and sleekly in your hands.
Source: The Curves of Time, Oscar Niemeyer (London: Phaidon, 2010 (2000)), p. 147-48
Photo credit: pixabay.com
‘It is on white paper that a boy amuses himself, on which he draws houses, trees, land and sea animals, the sun and the moon. He enjoys these magical moments in which beauty arises, pure and spontaneous, as it should always be.
After that and throughout his lifetime, paper accompanies him in all his activities. If he becomes a writer, it is on paper that he will write his novels and create his most remarkable characters and settings of drama or beauty. If he becomes an artist, it is on paper that he will sketch the masterpieces that will last throughout time. If he becomes a scientist, it is on paper that he will attempt to decipher the immense universe that surrounds us, to record distances, to ascertain new parameters, and to demonstrate our relative insignificance in comparison to the immensity of creation. Finally, if the boy grows up to become an architect, he will use paper and innovative techniques to design palaces, theaters, universities, and other shelters where human beings are born, grow old, and die.
Paper is the weapon of long-suffering people – those individuals who rise up against the injustice of life. Paper was present in the development of the applied sciences – from facsimile devices to state-of-the-art technology. And, oftentimes, it serves as a medium for bonding lovers, transmitting painful frustrations, and disseminating the worries and joys that destiny imposes on us.’