Sunday, July 30, 2006


What moods may a Convention unleash. Bad or good I am exhausted by them, need a day for the live currents to work their way through my system. And weeks till the energies have all converted themselves into paperforms.

This one, the third convention run in Israel as an enterprise of the Israeli Origami Center, fell in time with the mixed moods of war. As an activity often laced with the guilt of escapism and childish indulgence, origami had its basic existential qualities stretched here to the limit. Most people were----glad, one way, not to have to watch the news for three days; but guilty at it too, at not using this time to help somehow with all that’s going on (if only by keeping in touch and commiserating), or to care for their families. For the handful of Northerners it was a chance to crawl out of the bomb shelters for a time and rub their eyes. Then there were all the young people—they haven’t been called up yet, but you know they will be soon. (I worry especially for GN; for L.S. They are dear to my heart.) Escaping into paperfolds can feel like a good way of getting out, of gaining some space for perspective. Or maybe not: escaping isn’t always the right thing to do.

The guest that the IOC brought over was John Montroll. What a fine man. What respect for the privacy of the activity of origami, for the one, the one-on-one, and the small-group setting; for pursuit of this activity despite or against a mocking attitude from the larger society, on account of its supposed frivolity or waste-of-time. Nor has the smaller society , that’s given to odd fits of adulation, turned his head. Not from him will you hear this “Master” talk—despite all that he’s done. I imagine that there are real risks an origami professional must run--of pretentiousness, or rank commercialism, delusions about the importance to society of one's enterprises, etc. None of this seems to have tainted John in the slightest. Origami for him stands on its own, without need of outside justification (of the 'social-betterment' or 'scientific-application' varieties). It is what it is: that's quite enough. But it’s not the be-all and end-all either.

The convention was held at Kibbutz Tze'elim, in the southern-desert part of the country near my town. Hence the dromedary motif---a familiar, roving icon of the landscape in which I live.