Monday, June 25, 2012

Box making, week two...

This is the sawdust path to Bill's home
This morning I am up early as seems to be my habit in Maine. I would love to sleep late but cannot. The sun comes up very early here, and as we are pretty far north, the days are long before dark.

This is the start of my second week of classes in box making and I have a long list of things to cover, demonstrations to plan. Some of my students worked through the weekend. I went to school for just a few hours yesterday and then was diverted by the offer to sail out of Rockport Harbor. That was a delightful experience, and it was fun for me to take the tiller for a time, steering the boat back to port without running into anything, and making the best use of the wind in order to do so.
A yurt in the serenity of Mill Pond
Bill at home

I'll keep on the subject of Bill Coperthwaite for another day and may come back to him later in the blog. In time, all of us will be forgotten. Those who are kept in memory will be so only for small snippets of what they've done. Einstein has been reduced to his formula, even though the whole of his work and his life were profound. Accomplishments that may have seemed so important at the time are sifted and sorted into the smallest of piles. A quote here, a notion there, but the flesh will not pass on. Perhaps a few important ideas or ideals may pass through, but as Bill suggested, there are truly no absolutely new things. And in my advocacy of hands-on learning, I am only reminding of what folks have always known. When I arrived to visit Bill, he was cooking rhubarb on his cast iron cook stove, tending to the normal concerns of everyday life. What he was doing, tending a fire to prepare food would be far more normal in every part of the world but our own.

Here in 21st century USA, things are speeded up, conflated, and distorted far from what things once were for each and every common man going back to the earliest of times. And it seems that concern for that common man has been a driving force in Bill's life, caused him to teach, and to adopt a way of life through which he could demonstrate core democratic principles.

As Bill showed me his democratic axe, a blade attached to common hammer, I was reminded of the man in Haiti, attempting to dig his family from the rubble of his collapsed home, who asked, "How can I do this, I don't even have a hammer?" And so tools are such an important component of democracy. Are they to be held firmly in the grip of power, controlled to the benefit of few, or widely distributed to folks in real need? I urge those who are curious about Bill to buy his book, A Hand-Made Life, as it expresses his philosophy far better than I can describe it. Pay particular attention to his democratic axe., and note that the yurt is a home all folks can afford. Without tools or the capacity to make them, and own them, man is diminished and his or her life is placed in subservience to others who could care less. Readers interested in this subject will also be interested in Ivan Illich's book, Tools for Conviviality.

 Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    What a beautiful place, and a remarkable man.