Friday, February 06, 2015


Today I began printing parts for a hand. As slow as the 3-D printing process is, the good thing is that once you start the process in motion, you can do other things while it works. I have lots of questions about this process.

The first is that technology is often deceiving and deceptive. We watch our children playing on their digital devices and may be fools to think that these things (as smart as they are) are making them smart, or at least not in the way that hands-on creativity has done in the past. After all, if monkeys can use iPads to entertain themselves and people can use iPads what's the dif? The following is from the end notes of Dr. Frank Wilson's book about the Hands:
The human hand is little better endowed, in a purely material sense, than that of any generalised primate in whom the thumb is present and specialised. In this connection Wood Jones (1941) wrote: “We shall look in vain if we seek for movements that man can do and a monkey cannot, but we shall find much if we seek for purposive actions that man can do and a monkey cannot.” The heart of the matter lies in the term“ purposive actions,” for it is in the elaboration of the central nervous system and not in the specialisation of the hand that we find the basis of human skill.
Printing the second batch of parts.
The world is not in need of more stuff, whether it entertains us or not, but it is in need of further growth in our humanity. We are made as makers. The inclination to take materials and make the best use of them can be illustrated with a stick. Many years ago, when I was working with emotionally disturbed children at Porter-Leath Children's Center in Memphis, one of my students, Sylvester, 8, stood at the top of the playground slide with a stick. He proclaimed it a cane, then a spear, then a sword, and then an umbrella, as he next launched himself down the slide. What we make of things and how we make them and why we make them is a reflection and a means of how and what we are attempting to make of ourselves. Shall we make of ourselves what monkeys cannot?

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. One of the reasons I'm finally giving up totally on teaching even my one class post-retirement is that there seems to be no way to discourage the telephone-addicted. I even try to shame them and tell them that most people in a classroom don't look down at their crotch and smile.