A Mathematician explained it to me once. We were at a dinner. He drew the explanation on a napkin. A light bulb went off.
Then the tiramisu came along.
It’s a top contender for the “Theory of Everything”, that I do recall. But I was left with a lingering sense of laziness and loss, for failing to pursue the matter further — until I came upon a work by the archaeologist Elizabeth Wayland Barber.
Because though string theorists may, or may not, have arrived at a verifiable principle that ties everything together, it is the invention of string itself — that homely entity that clutters up your kitchen drawer — that could turn out to have been mankind’s most essential great leap forward.
So much so, that the Paleolithic could be referred to as the Early String Age. The discovery of how to twist short vegetable filaments together was as important a labour-saving invention as the Industrial Revolution’s harnessing of steam, according to Barber — allowing the ability to tie things up, catch, hold, carry, make snares, fish lines, tethers, leashes, nets, handles, packages, and to bind together more complex tools.
Not to mention the fetching little skirt worn by the Paleolithic stone “Venus” figure, dating to bout 20,000 B.C., found at Lespugue in France.
No wonder so many ancient myths centre on tales of women weaving — Arachne, Procne — or the very Fates themselves, known as the Spinners….
As time goes by I hope to post information here to do with fibre, weaving, cloth — and even fashion.
And as so many writers are also involved in the fabric arts, I would love it if textile artists — whether writers or not — would send news about your work, your exhibitions, even photos, which I will hope to post.
Meanwhile I hugely recommend the fascinating work of Elizabeth Wayland Barber: Women’s Work, the First 20,000 Years.
Published by Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-31348-2.