Wednesday, December 11, 2013

time release...

I have another day without school due to snow, but fortunately, I have a long list of things to do in the wood shop to keep me occupied. I've been working on my review of Peter Korn's book, Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: the Education of a Craftsman, and the editor for British Woodworking asked me for my own opinion of why we make things and why it matters.

Peter Korn describes the process of making things as a physiological response that has effect over time in that it can be transferred like a virus among us. Psychologist Kelly Lambert, PH.D suggests that there are physiological responses on the level of neurohormones that provide the sense of engagement that Mihaly Csikszentmihaly described as flow in his groundbreaking book, Flow. As one is steadily engaged in a physiological process that involves a high degree of attention, the body secretes a steady time-release dose of neurohormones that alter the brain's chemistry to induce a form of pleasurable experience. Dr. Lambert has described this process as "effort driven rewards." The interesting thing is that this mechanism can lead one on into higher forms of conscious engagement requiring greater levels of craftsmanship. The mind/body doesn't gain the same level of pleasure from doing things ad nauseam or to the point that little or no attention is required.

So pick up a tool and try it. You will first need a goal to accomplish. These feelings of creativity do not arise in empty exercises. But with a goal in mind, a knife in hand, and a piece of wood to whittle or shape in some new and useful form of beauty, you can direct the flow of a time-released dosage of mind-altering pleasurable neurohormones that can actually transform your life... one knife stroke, and one wood chip at a time. Then when the pattern of neurohormone response has been established and while it is still fresh in the hand/mind/body, just picking up your finished work, will re-engage the secretion of these same neurohormones that made you feel so fine during the making of such a beautiful and useful thing. That will remind you to go back and make something offering greater  challenge and more useful beauty.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Dear Doug,
    Have you read "Making is Connecting" By David Gauntlett? I just discovered it in our local library.
    Randall H