Re: "Really Learning"

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on March 04, 1999 at 21:03:05:

In Reply to: Re: "Really Learning" posted by R. John Howe on March 04, 1999 at 05:28:26:

: Dear Michael et al -

: You wrote in part:

: "The handle of a rug-part of wool quality but also things like its back- is critical. I cannot conceive of really learning about old rugs without having them in your hands."

: My thought:

: Let me pick on what's likely just a momentary expression and probably not what you mean at bottom.

: While I agree that important things are given up when we can't handle pieces or view their colors in natural light, and while I don't know what you would count as "real learning," I don't think I would go as far as your statement suggests.

: Perhaps the most important reason why I spend the time I do on this site is that I do see it as an opportunity for real learning.

: And as to the back of a piece, Daniel has just demonstrated that with the magnification capabilities of the machine we can sometimes see on the screen things about the back of a piece that would be difficult to see if you had it on your lap.

: So I think it's a good deal more mixed. Yes, there are real limitations. And we don't yet have the wealth of experience that we need reflected in these conversations. But the fact the someone who's been looking at rugs for perhaps 40 years, as Harold Keshishian has, tunes in on our conversations regularly, precisely to see if there might be something more to be learned, suggests that some of us do not see the limitations we face on the Net as preventing real and important learning.

: And I'll bet that's why you're here too.

: Regards,

: R. John Howe

Dear John:

I meant what I wrote and I believe it fervently. We
can talk about and discuss rugs all day long here and elsewhere.
We might even learn some important information and get a basic
grasp of the subject. Ultimately, however, there is no substitute
for handling a rug and many rugs. There are so many important
subtleties and inexpressible details to be learned. I do not
believe your can achieve now or ever the depth of understanding
or appreciation for distinquishing what elevates one superficially
similar rug from another without handling them separately and together
or as part of a group. I am constantly surprised by what a piece
tells me (or does not tell me) when I handle it. Meaningful things, at least to me,
perhaps because it involves senses and not just my meager brain.
I doubt it is only me. I have observed experienced ruggies examining
rugs with their eyes closed focusing on the wool quality and the feel of the back.
From such examinations comes the expression, "it has an old back."
I know what an "old back" feels like, I am certain many others do as well.
I could not begin to use words or a picture to share it with you.
I hope this responds to your question. Michael

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