To be completely honest I was not a friend of old books when I started this exercise. I find it difficult to understand old books in general and my assigned book “Trattato della cognizione pratica delle resistenze geometricamente” by Giovanni Battista Borra was even in Italian- a language I can’t understand especially in the context of architecture. For that reason, I wasn’t pleased about the assignment to get friends with an old book at first. But gladly the exercise didn’t turn out to be that difficult. There was plenty of time in between each task and we only had to concentrate on one specific topic at a time. Otherwise, I can tell you for sure our friendship wouldn’t have lasted almost a year.
The best part about our friendship was when we could finally meet in person in Einsiedeln. That was a very special moment, it was slowly getting cold and dark outside and we were in that cozy library seeing each other for the first time. I was really overwhelmed by the whole situation and suddenly I changed my mind and thought my book and I could really become friends. It was a massive book with very thick paper and it turned out to be difficult to turn each page of the book as it was not used to being read.
This leads me to my next task I was trying to find other publications, translations, abridgments, reeditions or reprints of the book- but I couldn’t find any. In my opinion the book wasn’t given enough value. This was proven to me when I started reading a book from Olga Zoller about Battista Borra. Where he says that apparently the treatise of Giovanni Battista Borra in 1748 was not of significant meaning for the international architecture scene as his treatise was just a collection of several known theories, which have already been published before and weren’t up to date anymore. This was a difficult time for my friendship with my book. On which side am I? Olga Zoller or on the side of my book? I decided to think critical about my book but not to completely ignore it. My book was for sure not a new invention at that time but it still earns some respect as it takes effort to collect several theories and to combine it to one single book. In my opinion the book “Trattato della cognizione pratica delle resistenze geometricamente” by Giovanni Battista Borra should be valued as it is a collection of theories which were of importance for architecture in the past.
During the assignment to get friends with an old book I learned that I don’t have to completely read word by word of a book to understand the content. How the book is composed, especially the cooperation of text and illustrations, reveals a lot about the purpose of a book. I guess this task was good to learn how to access and evaluate information with digital resources and that those digital resources can also be used to find synthetic friendships. Furthermore, I can say I have grown in confidence to talk about books I can’t completely understand nor have read. And I guess this newly learned skill can also be translated in other fields of my studies.