Books and senses by Jacek Czarnik
Some time ago, I was glancing through the manuscripts written by Ignacy Krasicki. They contained fragments of poems, first drafts of fairy tales, and other notes. I new most of them, therefore I concentrated on the quality of handwriting of this ancient poet. It was an experience, interesting, even emotional. However, the strongest experience came from the touch. I could grasp with my fingers the same pages that he touched. Only this surrogate contact - in spite of two hundred years separating us - evoked in me an emotional shudder.
Touch is a sense of fulfilment, without it, belief is difficult, love is handicapped, and knowledge is incomplete. Books have to be touched. They are meant for the hand as well as eyes and mind. Complete contact with them occurs only when one feels their weight, smoothness or roughness of the binding, elasticity or softness of paper. It is difficult to content oneself with just looking at them through the window of a bookshop or contemplate, enclosed in a bookcase, however masterfully conceived, title printed on the back of a book.
There are not many forms of art in which an artist can consider the effect of his creation on the sense of touch. Writers are fortunate to have at their disposal many possibilities. A book stimulates almost all senses. The eye can behold the beauty of illustrations and decorations. The nose is enticed by the aroma of printers ink. The rustle of foil covering graphic reproductions intrigues the ear, and the whisper of turning pages calms the mind. The experiences connected with taste can, in truth, be only accessed through one's imagination, stimulated by the content of the book. At times, the world conjured by text replaces reality. The forces of imagination cannot be underestimated.
The foremost impression associated with a book is visual. Multiplicity of elements forming the material entity of written and graphic media enforces the necessity of creating a unique "architecture" of printed text format and book, as a whole. This task demands a degree of talent, taste, courage, and thorough specialist knowledge.
Source: Contemporary book art - EBIB No.10/2002