Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Yesterday I found myself so busy in class that I neglected to take any photos of my students at work. I have been playing right alongside. I set up the saw and taught them how to make box sides, and then demonstrated enough veneer work that they could commence on their own.

On another matter, I have begun working my way through David Esterly's book the Lost Carving. It is a book that others have recommended to me, but that a friend had been so insistent I read, that he put his copy in my hands and insisted I make a list on a back page of pages that interest me.

A problem is that when craftsmen write intelligently about the hands, another craftsman can open the book at any point and find depth. The bigger problem is that craftsmanship was the foundation of intellectualism which then proceeded on its own to get completely out of hand, laying claim to its own superiority. Philosophers began talking about the supremum bonum, or supreme good, as though it was unrelated to human life and human physicality.

My daughter will teach this next year in a school in New York City that resembles Clear Spring School in that it has a travel program and is particularly concerned with student involvement. Unlike Clear Spring School, it is in the upper story of a building in Greenwich Village with virtually no connection to the outdoors. It's mission statement makes the bold and reassuring assertion that all children are "intellectual." That statement is completely true if children are given a chance.

One of the ways intellectualism is launched in a more personal and less pretentious way is through craftsmanship, so what I would add is all children are inclined toward craftsmanship which then provides a stable foundation for intellectualism.

Even language (whichever language you speak) is haunted by the metaphors drawn from the making of real things.

This is from David Esterly:
Language was build out of metaphors taken from the world of handiwork, of bodily activity. Some expressions, like "against the grain," come down unmodified and flaunt their origins. But this was more than a matter of linguistic relics. When you write about carving, you enter a landscape haunted by symbols, where meanings flow together. You write about one thing only to find you are writing about something else.
The irony is that what started out in the hands, the development of human intellect, was lost in Platonic philosophy to notions that the hands are unclean and that intellectualism must escape from physicality into the purity of logic, while logic can only make meaning through reference to human physicality. Still, in that intellectualism, the only frame of actual reference comes from that which we are, makers. We make music, we make objects of useful beauty, we make meaning, we make life.

Today I will make boxes.

Make, fix, create, teach others to do likewise.

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