Sunday, March 06, 2011

first hand, second hand, 3rd opinion.

When we know something from our own experience it is known first hand. When we learn something as portrayed from the experience of another, we call it second hand. We know that second hand is subject to bias, misunderstanding, misinterpretation and deliberate distortion. That is why when someone is seeking a medical diagnosis, we look for a second or third opinion to make certain important medical decisions are based on true clarity.

Shortly after I had graduated from college, I attended a poetry recitation in Memphis, TN. A college professor had wanted me to pursue the poetry I had been writing for his class, and the idea of myself as a "poet" had not completely escaped my imaginations of self. The poetry reading did that for me. I listened politely as budding poets and their more experienced advocates told bleeding heart stories that were dredged from the experience of others. No first hand, real stuff in sight. From my own perspective, as one who likes reality, and truth, a poet needs to be engaged in real experiences of his or her own and poetry without those falls flat.

The following is from Charles H. Hamm, Mind and Hand, 1886:
"It is easy to juggle with words, to argue in a circle, to make the worse appear the better reason, and to reach false conclusions which wear a plausible aspect. But it is not so with things. If the cylinder is not tight, the steam engine is a lifeless mass of iron of no value whatever. A flaw in the wheel of the locomotive wrecks the train. Through a defective flue in the chimney the house is set on fire. A lie in the concrete is always hideous; like murder, it will out. Hence it is that the mind is liable to fall into grave errors until it is fortified by the wise counsel of the practical hand."
If you are a regular reader, forgive me for repeating, but the human hand is constantly seeking the truth and thereby finding it.

We live in an age of exploding "journalism" with huge distortion of information and opinion. Where is the first hand? I have been brain storming an idea. What if those who wrote books were to print them (on letterpress) and bind them themselves? The process would be concurrent so that the hand and press might give shape and cogency to the language used. Can you see the potential for the enrichment of the whole of human culture? If you have been reading here for just a short time, you will know that the hands have left their mark on the entirety of human culture even though their labors have been denigrated and displaced from American education. We have thus become a nation of commonplace distortion and manipulations and we are missing the intelligence that arises from the hand's engagement in creative thought.

Let's reunite the hands with learning, so that what our children know will be connected first hand. Make, fix and create.


  1. Anonymous7:05 AM

    A friend of my older son works as a computer systems analyst. But to maintain his sanity and his sense of creativity, he does old fashioned book binding at home. He has learned that the day job can be the financing that makes it possible to do something much more satisfying.


  2. Mario, that is a common story, an artist who gets his income from one thing while his art sustains his soul. And there are many who spend their lives working in a field with eyes on retirement so they can do what they love when retirement comes.