I first heard of Joseph Campbell in college, which was more than half a lifetime ago. His words resonated so deeply. But I’m not sure I understood them fully until recently. Bliss. To me, bliss is more like “flow,” as in Csikszentmihalyi’s research.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
It’s what happens to me when I am working on the press. Last week a friend brought by some ink he didn’t need any longer. Not standard letterpress ink, but what the heck. I’ve heard of using other types of ink so I wanted to give it a try.
The first few attempts were bad. I ran down my list of possible problems: not locking up the type correctly, not enough or too much packing, too much ink. Nothing corrected the bleeding I was seeing. I assumed the ink wasn’t going to work. And then I had a flash- what if the brayer isn’t getting the ink on the type well enough? I was using my proof press not my platen press to test this. Bingo! After I cleaned up the press and tried a different brayer, the sample print was much better. I fooled around a little more with paper thickness, and then called it a day. Hours of trying this and that had flown by. And in the end, I felt as satisfied and full as I have after a delicious meal and wine.