Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Simply Illuminating, 1.01

Smithsonian Magazine called the production of The Saint John’s Bible, begun in 1998 under the artistic direction of Donald Jackson, “one of the extraordinary undertakings of our time.” Here's a set of images from four of its pages.  

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I’ve been a fan of Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts for so long that I automatically wonder, when I read the “business bibles” I read today (big, overarching guides to competing, winning and surviving), why the latter are so lame by comparison. Generally speaking.

I’ve yet to come across a business book that was hand-lettered or hand-illuminated. (Capital 'B') Biblical illuminations are designed to glorify the Word of God and transform it into a complementary art form; they're spiritual meditations on a text. Between the covers of the lower-case 'b' bibles on my shelf, there’s hardly any artwork at all.

Bottom line: the best manuscripts have played a role in informing the standards I use to judge other books. And not just 'cause of their artistry. There's more...

Beauty is what I'm trying, in a roundabout way, to get at. A huge, confusing subject, but one I'd like to continue to explore using examples of specific business-book things that've either added to or taken away from my perception of pleasure, meaning or satisfaction. In a short series of posts. With this intro as a backdrop.

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To ignite your imagination about what a book can still be, have a look-see: www.saintjohnsbible.org.

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