Saturday, October 03, 2009

I make therefore I am

From A theory of craft: function and aesthetic expression By Howard Anthony Risatti
The philosophical concept of intentionality is instructive for fine craft and fine art when one realizes that just as the intentional “object” is the bearer of the thinker’s thought, so too the thing the maker makes must be the bearer of the maker’s thought. Thus Descartes’s “cogito ergo sum” can be applied to homo faber, to man-the maker, and be transposed in to “facio ergo sum” (“I make” or “I am making, therefore I am”). However, it is not enough to understand ”I make, therefore I am” as simply a Cartesian declaration of conscious existence; it must be understood in the expanded sense of a conscious, intentional act in which “to be a maker” means “I am making something.” And just like the act of thinking, the act of making can never be empty; always it must be directed beyond itself to an intentional object; and more important for our discussion, when this act also is creative, it becomes an act that transforms its object.
It transforms the maker as well, for in the act of making, man fulfills essential being.

In the meantime, the effort to compose meaningful text to justify and explain the act of making to that part of the world, which has never been inspired to create and has no clue to its significance goes on. And on. While some, already outside the academic realm and already aware of man's unique predisposition to discover fulfillment in the creative act simply grab clay and squish it through fingers, or take knife and stick or choose from a myriad of other tools and materials for the manipulation of physical reality and rediscover themselves for the first time. In other words, in simpler text, no knowledge of Greek required, just do it.

For until such time as you have engaged in making beautiful and useful objects no amount of explaining will suffice. When you have discovered yourself through your own creative act, no amount of explaining will be necessary, except that you may be in the position of feeling compelled to explain what is essentially beyond explanation so that others might be lured to discover themselves through the act of making. It is best to dispense with words altogether. We are best led by the quiet hand. Grab one. A child's perhaps. Cook, garden, make, sew, fix, clean, create, make new. It is the creation of self about which words alone are insufficient.


  1. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Well said, by both Risatti and you. Working at a craft definitely changes the person.


  2. It is kind of like sex. You can't describe it, words, regardless of how many will not be enough.