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Iconoclast, Fashion Symbol, Bookbinder, Legend
October 26, 2011 9:24 AM   Subscribe

"There has never, ever been a period in the history of mankind where you have as much conformity as you have now, and yet every person is under the delusion that they are an individual. I'm not. I'm trying to fit in. " So says Michael O'Brien, victorian bookbinder, sage of Oamaru, snappy jacobian dresser and all around good guy. Working in the historic district in the pacific's last remaining Victorian harbour he has inspired a whole traditional craft community around him.
posted by fordiebianco (15 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah I know, I had to clean the conformity out of my closet but i couldn't do it with household products and the hazmat guys wouldn't give me their emergency rates unless I'd gotten my place inspected for a history of conformity beforehand. Apparently you have to get certified at a cooking school, like for sommeliers, in order to recognize conformity well enough to be an official inspector? Whatever, that stuff all smells the same anyway.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:33 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know a few bookbinders. I have never met more patient, angry people.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on October 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Perhaps a bit of a derail, but Oamaru was one of those lovely, unexpected gems that bonehead and I came across during our honeymoon on the South Island of NZ. It is a strange, beautiful, anachronistic place, that positively revels in its overtly Victorian downtown. There was a sandstone carving competition while we were there, a steampunk exhibition at the local museum, and a gorgeous park with a victorian-style oriental garden. We also got to hang out in a local radio station, which was wallpapered with album covers of local acts from times long ago.

We visited the historic arts district, although I don't think his bookbinder shop was open when we were there. But we discovered some really neat shops, a cute little corner pub with a lot of polished brass, and an amazing distillery down at the docks.

As anachronistic as Michael O'Brien looks to us North Americans, I assure you, in Oamaru, he really does fit in.
posted by LN at 9:44 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"There has never, ever been a period in the history of mankind where you have as much conformity as you have now"


I challenge. My guess is that globally there has been a tremendous amount of leveling. But within each culture, however homogenized they may be relative to one another, I seriously doubt that the degree of conformity is anywhere near as great as he seems to be saying.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:50 AM on October 26, 2011


This is really neat. I'll have to add Oamaru to my list of places to visit.

In the meantime, does anyone else think that calling someone a 'Penny Farther' has a range of possible meanings - from serious insult to compliment?
posted by glaucon at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


These are the types of statements that wannabes make.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I for one welcome our new Bookbinding Overlords!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:36 AM on October 26, 2011


"There has never, ever been a period in the history of mankind where you have as much conformity as you have now"

From the sage of Oamaru link: "tartan did not become “trendy” until George IV of England repealed the Act of Proscription, which banned highland dress following the Jacobite uprisings in 1746." Conformity imposed by law.

Now if by conformity we mean a global culture where anyone is free to go pantsless or live in a Victorian village if they so choose, bring on the conformity. An array of little fiefdoms each with their own cultural rules imposed by force is not a kind of diversity I'm interested in.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2011


"An array of little fiefdoms each with their own cultural rules imposed by force is not a kind of diversity I'm interested in."

Who says there is any imposing going on? Only a handful of individuals are living this lifestyle. The rest is getting on with buying new flat-screen tv's.
posted by fordiebianco at 11:05 AM on October 26, 2011


"There has never, ever been a period in the history of mankind where you have as much conformity as you have now"

I call bullshit. I wonder if this guy would have the same opinion if he were somehow magically transported back to, oh, almost any time and place you would want to name in human history?
posted by blucevalo at 11:05 AM on October 26, 2011


Hipster Bookbinder was into non-conforming anti-individuality before you were.
posted by Aquaman at 11:59 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll believe him when he gives up indoor plumbing.
posted by oddman at 12:38 PM on October 26, 2011


glaucon , be seeing you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:03 PM on October 26, 2011


Surprising amount of snark for one more or less offhand mildly provocative comment.

I mean to say, his main point of the attractions of a slower life is not that outrageous. And did no one catch the mention of transition towns? I'd have thought it a natural for the blue-ites.

Frankly, it sounds like the kind of town I've been looking for.

I'll believe him when he gives up indoor plumbing.


Yeah, yeah, or dentistry. Come on, clearly that's got nothing to do with his point. Just because some mod cons are nice doesn't mean they all are.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:31 PM on October 26, 2011


That clip of the bindery made me drool. As someone who runs their print 'shop' out of her shed and binds books on a desk in the spare room, I can only dream of what this guy has.

I kind of get the snark, but really people, why is there this need for people to be completely authentic (no indoor plumbing etc.) Isn't the whole point of our modern age here in the 'West' that we have the freedom to pick and choose what we want, and this guy points out that you know what, you don't have to conform unless you want to - you want to wear a kilt and a waistcoat, what's stopping you?

And Katjusa Roquette, your attitude has been duly noted.
posted by Megami at 12:55 AM on October 27, 2011


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