The Lost Art of…Lost Arts

Alethea MermaidLike many a work of prose, this blog post was born from the merging of two entirely separate ideas.

Idea Number One: I often joke to friends about certain “Lost Arts” of the twenty-first century — habits that are fading out of existence that wouldn’t normally cross the mind of anyone over the age of 25. A few examples:

Introducing oneself in person
Politely answering a house phone without caller-ID
Backing up in a car without a rearview camera
Nursery Rhymes

Idea Number Two: Researching is a fabulous rabbit hole. A writer can google “bird wing anatomy” and find herself hours later researching Native American snake myths. (Not that I’ve done this before…ahem…) A few times I have been temped to blog about my researching adventures, and the myriad of things I’ve discovered in my virtual travels.

So in researching what other folks might consider “Lost Arts”, I stumbled upon a few things I hadn’t considered.

The Lost Art of Handpainted Movie Billboards — there is an octogenarian artist in Greece keeping this alive.

The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter — Therapists recommend it, even Abraham Lincoln utilized this practice to keep himself calm. In today’s world of social media, it’s often In Brain, Out Fingers.

The Lost Art of Pickpocketing — Because, really…that’s just too much hard work.

The Lost Art of Quitting — It’s actually okay to let go of the things that don’t matter. Sometimes your pride is just bullshit.

The Lost Art of Sacred Art — No one has time to be Michelangelo or Fra Angelico anymore, leading to Churches of Ambiguity.

The Lost Art of the Baseball Signature — Famous players just don’t have time to sign legibly. (See also: Handwriting)

The Lost Art of Doing One Thing At a Time — Self-explanatory. And I kind of love it.

What are some “lost arts” you’ve noticed in your every day life? Anything in particular  you think might be going extinct in the next few decades?

19 thoughts on “The Lost Art of…Lost Arts

  1. The lost of art of writing a thank you note – and putting it in the mail:)…some people still do it, but the Internet has made the putting it in the mail a no-go. In fact, the psychological impact of the phrase “snail mail” is a PR nail in the coffin the post office will never recover from:)…Great post Mermaid Alethea!

  2. I think the Lost Art I miss the most is The Art of a Weekend at Home. Hell, I’d take an evening at home, but I find myself rushing from one thing to another nearly every day.

    1. I think that became a “Staycation”…for people that don’t have kids. Especially ones as exuberant and enthusiastic as yours. 🙂

  3. On a more serious note, there’s a Lost Art of Social Gatherings, (Slightly Related to the Lost Art of Cocktail Hour) — I’m thinking along the lines where the gathering invitees make sure they aren’t wearing rags, come to a gathering and actually speak to each other (possibly trading witty remarks), and at some point the guests take turns entertaining each other with songs, piano accompaniment or poetry.

  4. Ah, the Lost Art of a Refreshing Night’s Sleep. I usually get adequate sleep, or sometimes a long sleep, or a waking up with a stiff shoulder sleep. I imagine for a Refreshing Night’s Sleep there’s some ritual involving … silver bowls, a warm lavendar rinse, soft towels and being tucked in with a hot stone at one’s feet? Someone playing the harp? For extra credit, there’s The Lost Art of a Refreshing Night’s Sleep And Not Disturbing Your Spouse.

    1. I’m curious about this one too…is it the noise of my surroundings or the noise of my mind that keeps me awake all the time?

      1. It may be the approach to sleep. When you go to sleep, is your bed an altar where you commune with sleep? Or is it a refuge where you crawl away from the cares of day? Or is it the last chore you have to do at the end of a weary day?

  5. With my upcoming move across the country…I hope the art of being Pen Pals isn’t one of these lost arts. Remind me to give you me San Diego *snail mail* address, Princess.

  6. “What once was a rare champagne
    Is now just an amiable hock,
    What once was a villa, at least,
    Is “digs.”
    What once was a gown with train
    Is now just a simple little frock,
    What once was a sumptuous feast
    Is figs.
    No–not even figs–raisins!”

    — Stephen Sondheim, “A Little Night Music”

  7. The Lost Art of Standing in line at the grocery store without a cell phone in hand. First off, I’ll readily admit that I’m more of an extrovert than the average person, but, really. Do we have to be on our phones all the time? Can’t we talk to the person in line? I still start conversations standing in line, and at first people have that look like, “Wait. Are you talking to me?” Then they blink a few times in surprise. And then they start talking to me. And I love it.
    When everyone is texting on their phones, nobody sees the person right in front of them. In such an impersonal world–tied together by technology and social media–it’s amazing to me that we bypass the common things in a stranger and instead want to read about the extraordinary events in the lives of people we don’t know.
    So, if you’re in a grocery store and some random stranger starts chatting you up about overripe bananas or high fructose corn syrup, just say, “Is your name Kim?” haha

    1. Love it! Yes, humans are certainly cultivating a culture of hiding in plain sight…while simultaneously exposing their hearts and souls on the internet for all to see. It’s an odd dichotomy!

  8. I would completely agree about the lost art of handwriting. But mine is so bad most people are glad I’ve lost it 🙂 On the plus side it means I’m pretty much the only person who can read my journals…

    I would add the Lost Art of Vocabulary. The nuanced difference between words and finding the exact right word for a moment is kind of obliterated in a text frenzied, 140 character, short hand world.

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