Friday, March 22, 2019


For some time I've been trying to explain political reality from a manual arts perspective. There are a few folks I've referenced in previous blog posts that may help you to sort out and dig deep. One is Joe the Plumber. ( each of these can be found by using the search function of this blog, found at upper left) Another is Karl Popper whose concept "verisimilitude" can also be useful in digging deep. For facebook readers, you'll have to go to the blog,

What follows is a blog post from WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010

Narrative and reality

Jerome Bruner's article "The Narrative Construction of Reality" suggests that narrative plays an important role in how man "achieves a 'true' knowledge of the world... that is to say, how we get a reliable fix on the world, a world that is... assumed to be immutable and... 'there to be observed'." (we develop narratives and then chat in our own heads and with each other about them) But it should be noted that belief and reality often differ.

In my continuing interest to explain the narrative function of crafts, I want to address one minor point of comparison. In discursive narrative, verisimilitude, or what Stephen Colbert called "truthiness" is completely acceptable. In my interpretation of Bruner's article, discursive narrative may be based on real events or fictional, without diminishing our use of it to establish belief or to portray reality in shaping the beliefs of others. A great example is when Ronald Reagan used his movie characters' "experiences" as being valid in explaining and rationalizing positions he took in office as president.

In political narrative, it has become completely acceptable to just make stuff up. I want to compare this with craftwork as narrative expression. Crafts are not about making things up, but about making real things. Narrative, as used in politics, religion and entertainment creates belief based on verisimilitude, on ideas that may appear to resemble truth from certain psychological predispositions but may not be able to pass full muster of physical reality.

In other words, in discursive narrative, you get to make stuff up. In crafts, you make beautiful and useful stuff instead, and if you are interested in reality, there is no substitute for the real thing, and I'm not talking Coke.

There is an honesty in craft work that is missing in too much k-12 and university education, and the results can be disastrous for the entire society. The following is from Charles Henry Ham's book, Mind and Hand, 1886:
"It is thus that the trained hand comes at last to foresee, as it were, that a false proposition is surely destined to be exploded. The habit of rectitude gives it prescience. It invariably discovers, sooner or later, that a false proposition, when embodied in wood or iron, becomes a conspicuous abortion, involving in disgrace both the designer and the maker. A false proposition in the abstract may be rendered very alluring; a false proposition in the concrete is always hideous. One of the chief effects of manual training is, then, the discovery and development of truth; and truth, in its broadest signification, is merely another name for justice; and justice is the synonym of morality."
I find it interesting that Karl Popper, the philosopher who came up with the concept "verisimilitude" had an early career in a cabinet shop that he described as being his launch into the realm of philosophy.

Today in the woodshed, I'll be working on a table base.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Physical exercise as well. Henry Rollins once wrote an article about the honesty of lifting weights - The Iron will never lie to you, and you can never lie to it. You can either lift it or you can't.

  2. You are right. You can lift it or you can't. I'll look for Henry Rollins' article.