Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Socrates (470-399 B.C.)

Socrates view of craft:
"The so-called banausic arts have a bad name, and quite reasonably they are in ill repute in the city-states. For they ruin the bodies of those who work at them and those who oversee them. They compel these men to remain seated and to work in gloomy places, and even to spend entire days before a fire. While their bodies are being enervated, their souls, too are becoming much enfeebled. More especially, also, the banausic arts offer men no leisure to devote to their friends or to the state, so that such men become base in relation to their friends and poor defenders of their fatherland. And so in some of the cities, especially in those which are considered to be strong in war, no citizen is permitted to work at any banausic craft."
Obviously Socrates was liberally educated and knew very little about the joy one might find in exercise of creativity. About 40 years ago, I knew a blacksmith named Ted Reeser. His shoulders were incredibly wide and his arms were huge. He was proud of his physique and was very much aware of his attractiveness to (some) women. When he came into my father's store his skin and clothing were blackened by soot from the fire. He wanted me to guess his age. I knew him to be in his late 70's but I always guessed 60 just to make his day. He was nearly deaf from the ringing of his hammer and steel on anvil as he repaired farm implements and made tools. I know men like Ted are the kinds of human beings that Socrates believed had been deformed by their craft. But I suspect Socrates was living with his own set of deformities.

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit that some "banausic" crafts are hard on my body: gardening with hand tools, and spinning for hours for example. You have to take lots of breaks and do a lot of yoga.