ANYBODY, who was lucky enough to grow up just before plastic, the television, computers, and the social media completely denatured the human brain and soul, may sometimes or often remember a much higher quality of life; not everything, of course, could be termed "better" in the "Good Olde Dayes", for nothing on earth has ever been perfect. There were, indeed, plenty of nasty people, medicine was dubious to say the least, and pollution was rampant. The beautiful art of Fire-Gilding, by which brass buttons were covered in shiny gold, was so toxic that it was outlawed as long ago as 1848.
But, in general, the Old Ways Are Better.
Still, who would rather grow up now than then? We had fields to play in, we were taught all kinds of fun and useful skills, food, especially if home-grown, was far tastier and more nutritious, and "things", whether they were clothing, furniture, books, toys, or tools, were generally substantial and lasting. Money had value, when now it is a mere number; coins actually contained precious metal, and their design was worthy of admiration. Educated people could speak Latin and Greek; now, few of them can speak English.
Now, a name and a "validation" are considered sufficient to prove worth; in the old days, substance had a higher value.
These are but a few examples of what the world has lost over the past century. Now, so much manual skill has been lost that few people can make anything. Once upon a time, the standards for art of laundering were so high that the very act of cleaning clothes made those better than new. People could find their way in the dark and the wilderness by compass, and create their homes and places of businesses by measuring instruments, transits, logarithmic tables, and trigonometric tables. People, called "calculators", were in great demand because they could do arithmetic at lightning speed in very complicated situations. People knew how really good things were made and could thus repair their possessions. Does anybody remember how wonderful a beeswaxed floor used to be, or how real linoleum, made of linseed oil and tow, could stand up to the most intense beating?
The foregoing are general examples of lost skills. More particular ones may be described by their lack. There seems to be only one person left in the world who can make a genuine Panama hat, and few who can make a mariachi's enormous sombrero in the real still with the real materials. Apart from a few small firms, shoemaking, bootmaking, harnessmaking, saddlemaking, and all leatherwork has become a lost art, and even the artisans of those firms cut corners. It seems that about three or four people are left in the world who can make a last for shoes, or a tree for a boot, by hand. Really first-class hand tailors, and hand seamstresses, hardly exist.
Apart from contemporary music, listen to the folk and classical music as it is played by most contemporary musicians; it sounds like a loud machine that is not quite correctly constructed. in most cases, gone is the life and colour of the older players.
Some traditional trades, such as woodworking, have survived by some miracle, but finding a truly first-class blacksmith, toolmaker, or stonemason is very hard. Nobody can make the gold lace for real uniforms in genuine gold any more; no more can one find the plush velvet of silk that once lined case for fine things, or the luscious repp cloth that made the seats of vehicles so comfortable. The most expensive leathern furniture and seats in vehicles are now half leather and half plastic.
Now, it is impossible even to find any upholstery made from Naugahide taken from a genuine Nauga. (Grin of Relief.)
For many years, I have been doing my best to record traditional skills and what traditional skills can do in the ubiquitous face of encroaching and strangling modernity. This has made me virtually unemployable, but I have persevered.
I have had to concede to modernity enough to agree that computer can be useful, but, here again, one must have recourse to old ways of using computers because computers tend to fill up more than the space and time allotted to them; in other words, a well-disciplined computer is a good servant, but most computers are very bad masters, devouring all of one's time and energy and still making life worse than better.
In addition to their vastly better quality, the productions of traditional technology are, in general, far less costly in resources than contemporary ones, because they endure and because they can generally be repaired.
Thus, old-fashioned methods are far more sustainable. Old-fashioned practices and methods are environmentally-friendly.
This Project seeks to collect, codify, create methods for teaching, teaching, and encouraging traditional skills and products in every field, mental, artistic, scientific, and practical.
As the funeral director said, it is an enormous undertaking. (Jokes come with the project, because people used to have a sense of humour.) Akin to this, John Philip Sousa once said that, "before the gramophone, people used to sing all the time; now they do nothing."
Because of the time and expense of finding what few practitioners of the old ways exist, and paying them for their instruction when their circumstances morally require paying them, not to mention the assembling of rare books of instruction and actual examples of things, this project has grown costly.
In addition, all of this information, which is enormous, needs to be preserved, (sad to say) digested into the computer, tabulated, and regurgitated in coherent form. This requires the creation of a computer system unique to the project; we are developing one one from the ground up in FreeBSD Unix, and this project may turn out to produce something really useful in the cyberworld, not to mention lucrative in and of itself.
Although this Project is based in the traditions of the English-speaking peoples, the danger to Good Skills may be found everywhere, so anybody who wants to see a good tradition of any culture or time preserved, such as that of making Panama Hats, or anything else from any other place or time, is welcome to discuss it for possible inclusion. Our method for researching, codifying, and teaching any old skill is so comprehensive that it is capable of recording for posterity the skill in question, including translations from other languages whilst preserving the original language in which the skill was researched.
The project has grown far greater than I can personally fund, but I am not ready or willing to form any organisation to contain it. I have had too many friends whose very pensions have been swallowed up in their efforts to preserve good skills and things, only to be ousted in illegal board meetings.
Therefore, funding for this project will go directly to me rather than a Board of Directors with a hidden agenda to milk a nonprofit organisation for all that they can. I'll pay the taxes on this funding personally, or let a kind donor pay them. This old-fashioned method retains integrity and objectivity.
I was once advised by a leading publicist that "if you have nothing ready to publicise, keep your mouth shut; when you do have something ready for the public, use a trumpet". Since the final product is not yet ready, I am keeping very private about this project, all the more since there are many who will want to make "a quick buck" by capitalising on this subject, but not offering the Real McCoy, which this project is. These kinds of people, who are divided into egotists and sharks, may be found everywhere on the Web.
For the same reason, I eschew all publicity, especially that of the anathematic social media.
In the world in general, this project is financially small; I have confidence that the right donors will be drawn to it without a surfeit of fanfare.
Obviously, this Project being small, kind Donors and I shall come to know one another well; I am certainly well enough known by those by whom I appreciate being known, just like the genuine practitioners of traditional skills, many of whom do not want any fame even after they, like so many that I have known over the years, shall have passed beyond this mortal coil.
So, please communicate if you would like; genuine enquiries are always appreciated.
Further, please note that ALL DONORS of each increment of $60, will receive the REWARD listed below. That Reward consists of ONE LESSON for each increment of $60 in any available Skill. Since these Lessons are still being created, those that take advantage of these rewards will be guinea pigs as we perfect our method of instruction in the traditional trades and crafts, and thus get more than the Lesson!
Lessons available, which will be live for locals or live on BigBlueButton (see BigBlueButton.com), are presently as follows, divided into Subjects. Each Subject contains many Sections, and each Section contains many Lessons. I teach many of these, and others teach others.
A TRUE TRADITIONAL CLASSICAL EDUCATION.-Ideally, all of these Subjects ought to be studied together.
Reading of the CLASSICS, in Classical Greek, Latin, and English.
Conversational CLASSICAL GREEK, specifically that of Hesiod and Homer, combined with study of these authors, followed by the Reading of the Greek Classics in Chronological Order.
Conversational LATIN, and Reading of the Latin Classics in Chronological Order.
Traditional SYLLOGISTIC LOGIC (which devastates debaters who have not been trained in it).
RHETORIC and COMPOSITION.
ELOCUTION and GESTURE. How to Extemporise or Write a Public Speech of Any Kind such as will flatten your audience with wonder.
ELEGANT PENMANSHIP. (What "they" now snobbishly call CALLIGRAPHY.)
How to CUT A QUILL.
How to Use a STEEL PEN.
FINE AND RAPID PENMANSHIP.
Traditional ARITHMETIC, including Alligation, the Rule of Three, and many other wonders of old-fashioned Arithmetic.
MENTAL Arithmetic. Calculate in your head, like an auctioneer.HEAD!
WEIGHTS and MEASURES.
Learn to use traditional WEIGHTS and MEASURES easily and rapidly! These tricks are not taught any more in schools.
NAVIGATION AND SURVEYING.
Approximating Latitude and Longitude with a Pocket Watch.
International Morse Code.
American Railway Morse Code.
MUSIC THEORY according to the Old Masters.
Playing the VIOLIN in the Old Style.
How to Know, Care for, Use, and Restore the Best HAND TOOLS, and even make them if necessary.
How to SHARPEN Hand Tools properly.
How to Make All Kinds of FINISHES.
Making LEATHER GOODS.
Making a SHOE to the Highest Standards.
How to Tel GOOD FIBRE.
NETMAKING. (Primarily for fishing, but also for tennis courts, cargo and luggage, and so on.)
How to Tell GOOD CLOTH. (Cloth is the old and true word for what people now call "fabric".)
How to CUT CLOTH without Waste.
GREEN WOODWORKING. How to Make Wooden Things Straight from the Tree.
How to Make and Use True FLOOR WAX.
REPAIRING and RESTORING Old Things Properly.
Creating Your Own BLOAT-FREE COMPUTER SYSTEM in FreeBSD Unix.
More subjects will be added as the research permits.
LESSONS make PERFECT GIFTS.
Since YOUNG PEOPLE were commonly taught the above Skills at Home, in School, and in Apprenticeships, these Lessons are IDEAL for HOMESCHOOLERS and as SUPPLEMENTS to Other Young People confined in STATE INSTITUTIONAL SCHOOLING.
At the same time, these Lessons are suitable for anybody of any age who has an interest in them.
GIVE the GIFT OF a TRADITIONAL CLASSICAL and PRACTICAL EDUCATION.
The current need is about $77,000, the components of which I shall gladly explain privately to any donor who would care to become enmeshed in details.
Any donation, however large or small, will be gratefully received.