...it is too good not to pass on.
The anthropologist Gregory Bateson used to tell a story:
New College, Oxford, is of rather late foundation, hence the name. It was founded around the late 14th century. It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with big oak beams across the top, yes? These might be two feet square, forty-five feet long.
A century ago, I am told, some busy entomologist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found that they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, who met in some dismay, because where would they get beams of that caliber nowadays?
One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested that there might be on College lands some oak. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country. So they called in the College Forester, who of course had not been near the college itself for some years, and asked him about oaks.
And he pulled his forelock and said, "Well sirs, we was wonderin' when you'd be askin'."
Upon further inquiry it was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks had been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for six hundred years. "You don't cut them oaks. Them's for the College Hall."
That's the way to run a culture.
From How Buildings Learn
by Stewart Brand.
I remember seeing a table in Colonial Williamsburg with incredibly wide planks. It had to have been cut from a pine tree at least two feet thick. And this table used these planks, not because they were convenient, which they weren't, but because it was illegal for the colonists to cut down trees that big, because they were reserved for masts for the British Navy. So the table was someone's way of thumbing his nose at the redcoats.
I guess there are some stories that just don't fit in a movie.