The Lister List

What are your other hobbies?

I suppose I can take a few minutes off from the task-demanding drudgery of Origami and think about my other hobbies. Incidentally, I'm hardly an Origami Practitioner, in Dorigami's terms. I do far too little folding for that! Perhaps I could call myself an imaginary folder or a theorigamist.

But enough of speculation! What are my other hobbies? Like my Origami they are nearly all in the mind, but like my paperfolding they mostly date back to my early childhood. Flags and heraldry have fascinated me ever since the Silver Jubilee in 1935 when a great variety of flags were put out in abundance. Another subject is Mythology and Folklore, both subjects in which there are hidden trackways and magical lands to explore. Some aspects that facinate me are mazes and labyrinths (an extraordinarily diverse and complex subject) and the white hill figures carved on the chalk hillsides of southern England. The history and legends of King Arthur and the Holy Grail also fit in here.

Apart from amassing thousands of books, I do not collect many things, but I do collect playing cards from all over the world. It's another folklore subject of immense interest as one watches patterns of cards subtly evolving over the centuries, driven by no apparent force. Folk Dancing and the Folk Drama have always attracted me. In fact dancing of any kind, from ballroom to break to ballet (and belly!) has such a life-enhancing vitality that I wish I had spent much more of my lifetime doing it in its many styles. I regret that as usual, for the most part (but not entirely) I have remained an observer. Language, too, is one of the great underlying forces of human life. Linguistics is another subject which has endless interest.

Which leads me to the Arts in general: painting, sculpture, architecture and music. What endless wonders there are! And the wonders of Nature! Just one instance: one of the subjects that fascinates me at present is the way garden roses evolved from wild roses growing in the middle East, Europe and China. I even grow a few roses, but not enough to make me a rosarian.

I do not pretend to be a mathematician, but I find mathematics to be immensely interesting. I think it is the underlying pattern that pervades mathematics and spreads into all other things. The structures of fabrics is an absorbing one, with infinite variety throughout the world, especially among the so-called primitive peoples. Fabrics lead me to the subjects of Knotting and Braiding and Cats' Cradles, all materialisations of underlying mathematical patterns. Then there are Islamic patterns which never cease to puzzle and delight in their woven intricacy. Which brings me back to paperfolding: did the Moors bring paperfolding to Europe? We do not know, but it is an engaging speculation. Pattern is the foundation of Origami (apart from minimalist styles, of course) and Origami is one of the best intoductions that there is to the subject of the relationship between mathematics, pattern and art.

These are just a few of my interests. I sometimes envy those who focus their attentions on one restricted subject and are not distracted by the richnesses of the world that surounds us. Jack of all trades and master of none, they say. But it surely cannot be wrong or entirely useless to try to capture a glimpse of the whole and the way everything relates to everything else. There is a scarcely-yet-developed science of Connections.

Well, I've always enjoyed this approach and like Newton picking up a pebble here and there on the beach beside the vast Ocean, I've enjoyed looking in more detail at one or two of the fragments of the grand picture. Like Origami, for instance.

David Lister

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Rabbit by Stephen O'Hanlon