Anyone who knows me is aware that I read a lot of books. Like, a lot. In middle school, I won a prize for most books read in my class. Or rather, I should have won — but that’s a story for another time. While often I’m rereading an Agatha Christie or a Georgette Heyer, I do make increasingly frequent dives into other genres, including non-fiction. In the last year, I’ve been intrigued by books that offer a different way of looking at the issues of today. These books have given me a lot to think about and a lot of motivation to put thoughts into action.
With that in mind, this is the commencing post in what will be a biweekly series where I highlight thought-provoking books. I will offer my thoughts and takeaways, but I invite you to offer me yours. The ultimate goal is to spark a meeting of minds and that goal can’t be accomplished if it’s just me talking!
So without further introduction, allow me to introduce our first book: Cræft by Alexander Langlands.
This book came my way by a review in Vogue Knitting, of all places. I was intrigued. Langlands, a British archaeologist, takes a deep dive into tradition crafts (primarily English crafts) and what their place and meaning is within modern society.
But to address the elephant in the room: what does cræft mean? Cræft is an Anglo-Saxon word that could be roughly translated to skill or knowledge. We can see its descendants in words like witchcraft, handicraft, and crafty. However, the concept can be expanded to an entire way of life that values knowledge and workmanship over convenience and speed. Naturally, this way of life was somewhat necessary in the past due to the lack of industrialization. However, its implications are still relevant today.
It has become apparent that in the near future we will not, and should not, rely on fossil fuels. While it is possible that the gap left by fossil fuels will be filled by renewable energy, it is by no means certain. Additionally, we cannot assume that renewable energy will be available with the same convenience, amount, and pricetag. Therefore, it would be prudent to consider a locally based economy that derives as much as it can from local resources and labour. Unfortunately, after the globalization of the past fifty years, this would be a dramatic shift. However, within our lifetimes, it could become our only option.
In such a future, traditional crafts such as the ones described by Langlands will become essential. Instead of plastic bags, we will be using baskets and instead of going to the mall we may find ourselves weaving cloth.
I would hesitate to call myself a pessimist, however I like to be planned for all eventualities. I am by no means planned for a breakdown of the existing economic and political framework. I doubt I could ever be prepared. Does that mean I should not try?
As always — love, Valentine