by Neva Bodin
Recently I read an article re origami principles playing a part in developing surgical instruments, scoping body parts, and sending solar panels to the international space station.
Origami, folding one piece of paper into recognizable shapes with intricate details, is now a very advanced art form. It is thought to have originated in Japan during the 700’s after paper was brought to the country by Buddhist monks in the 600’s. (Paper was reportedly invented in China around 105 A.D. What a boon to writers!)
Examples of this art in this century include the folding of airbags in the cars so they may expand and open instantly, and transporting solar panels to space.
Now they are experimenting with a compressed folded robot that can be swallowed as a lozenge made of pig skin (used to love those pork rinds), or frozen in water which melts inside the body, then becomes an instrument to deliver medication to a particular spot in the body, or provide images of the area.
Reading about this remarkable technology, I began to see our writing as a form of origami. We unfold a story, expecting someone to “swallow it,” by first compressing lifetimes, experiences, etc. into pages pressed tightly together in a book. These pages connect the story so the beginning touches the end, with a myriad of folds and connections in between.
We fold these stories together, so people and their lives touch each other, intertwine and connect in such a way to create a world a reader may crawl inside and feel the connecting structure. We tighten the story, compressing a length of time into a few hundred pages, or maybe less. Reading the book is unfolding the story/creation. “As the story unfolds” is a common saying whether we speak of fiction or non-fiction.
“What’s most important is to breathe life into the paper,” said Eric Joisel, a well-known French origami artist. He died in 2010 of lung cancer after being featured in a 2009 documentary by Vanessa Gould about modern origami masters: “Between the Folds.”
We breathe life into our writing, as our story folds together, to be unfolded by an enthralled reader.