Saturday, February 28, 2015

wrest and wry...

Readers will have noticed that I have a fascination with words, and the use of those words allows me to appear intellectual despite the number of hours I've spent isolated in the wood shop. It is surprising how many interesting words come from our use of our hands. Even though it appears that the academicians have the upper hand, the hands themselves are inescapable in that our language cannot remove itself completely from the physicality of our beings. The hands are the most instrumental part of human anatomy and thus take a sustaining role in all that human beings do and in how we think. George Lakoff has made a study of metaphor as a means of understanding our human perceptions, and it is absolutely true that without the hands supplying the metaphors, much of our literature would be diddly squat. That's why it's important to actually understand what a dovetail is, how it is used to join wood at cross grain and how it is formed in order to use the term dovetailed to its greatest effect.

Two other good hand words are wrest and wry and etymology online is my pal in the exploration of language and its interrelation with what we do.

I am not attempting to imply that to be a good writer, one must have done every possible thing in the book of human action, but simply that to have done real things brings greater depth to what is written and what is understood. In the case of fiction, to have done real things, rather than using second hand metaphors or third hand metaphorical frameworks, provides the tools necessary to bring your reader to a willing suspension of disbelief. In the case of non-fiction which is either based on having done real things, or upon thoroughly researching someone else having done real things, what one learns in the process of engaging deeply in real life, provides a necessary framework for both interpreting and sharing reality with readers.

The point I am trying to make here is that as long as we insist that schooling be the most important thing in children's lives, school should involve doing real things. The doing of real things is what provides the necessary framework for depth of understanding. So, if schooling is to be built upon a foundation of reading and writing, efficacy demands that the footings for the foundation be dug deep by doing real things.

I have a friend Bill, who retired from a career teaching philosophy at a major state institution. Bill was always the odd man out in the department due to the fact that he had supported himself throughout his education with jobs in construction and agriculture. Doing real things is the mine to which we must all return to dig narrative gold. It is the source of all metaphors, and to use them effectively, it is best that we wrest them from the soil through our own strength, that they be fresh and useful to us.

It is extremely odd that so much human effort would be directed toward releasing the hands from their labors, while the labors of the hands offer the greatest liberation, even for those who eschew labor.

Tim sent the following link to Comment Magazine, the work of our hands. Also, in that issue, you will find an interview with Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft and about his new book, the World Beyond Your head, Becoming an individual in the age of distraction. You will remember Crawford as the philosopher/motorcycle mechanic, who effectively connected the two.

Becoming an individual requires doing something upon which you can draw upon. Without being grounded in the work of the hands, things become wry, and much goes awry, as you can witness for yourself in this modern life.

It is snowing today in Arkansas. There is no better way to spend the day than in a warm wood shop, and there is no warmer image than the one above.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment