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Showing posts from August 14, 2020

Permanent skills

Permanent Skills
Weir was one of the most popular instructors at West Point in the mid-1800s. This is odd at a military academy, because he taught painting and drawing. Weir’s art classes were mandatory at West Point. Art can broaden your perspective, but that wasn’t the point.
Nineteenth-century West Point cadets needed to be good at drawing because cartography was in its infancy. High-quality maps of the United States – let alone, say, Mexico – were scarce, if they existed at all. Military officers were expected to draw maps on the fly and record a battlefield’s topography. It wasn’t a niche; it was vital to the war. Weir’s favorite student, who passed the time at West Point drawing river bends and mountain ranges, was Ulysses S. Grant.
West Point no longer offers drawing or painting classes. Its sole cartography course emphasizes mapping software and technology, as you might expect.
Drawing was an expiring military skill. Critical in one era, diminished in the next, unmentionable therea…