Friday, October 30, 2009

Richard Sennett

Richard Sennett was the keynote speaker at the American Craft Council's convention in Minneapolis... We just missed it. But his speech is available as a podcast from the American Craft Council.

Sennett's book, The Craftsman is one my readers might enjoy. In his speech at ACC Sennett said the following:
...the real problem today is that modern society no longer values the idea that craft is ever growing and exploratory. Instead workers are burdened by the sense that they need to create a final product. Due to bureaucracy, everyone feels as though they are being watched and in this sense must deliver work for financial rewards. Quality is no longer rewarded. This loss of quality is pervasive and with the proliferation of machines, the work of the artisan craftsman is even more threatened.
Part of Sennett's mission is to describe the old time values of craftsmanship as present within a wider variety of employments as workers seek excellence in lab work or computer programming. As I have suggested many times before in the blog, the rigor of engagement, seeking quality in craft or art work is the foundation for rigor in the occupational engagements one would inevitably face in the face of changing life and culture. If you know how to recognize quality when you see it, and know the processes of mind, hand and attention required to achieve it, you can do anything. And so I return to Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha's interview with his first employer. He was asked his qualifications. "I can think and I can fast," ... the qualifications of a true craftsman, which I will rephrase: "I can solve problems, and I can make use of what little is offered me in order to create."

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