Thursday, September 03, 2009

72632 Narrative on narrative part 7

This post is the conclusion of a series, and if you haven't been a regular reader, it will make the most sense if you begin with the first post.

Wooden Boat Editor Matt Murphy recently visited Scotland for the 2009 Scotland Traditional Boat Festival and described one boat, the 70’ two-masted REAPER as follows:
One photograph in REAPER’s belowdeck display shows her in her flit-boat days with a bus lying athwartship on her deck. A recent visitor to REAPER recalls riding that bus to school; another recent visitor donated a photograph of the boat being planked in 1902. And so REAPER has three missions: She’s a teller of stories, a gatherer of them, and a repository.
We think of narrative being a word game, but without the essential tactile, textural objects of human culture, the words become lost, tangled and of little meaning or interest. And so, when hundreds of tons of finely crafted gold objects are melted down for the raw ingots alone, as in the days of the conquistadors, or when, as today, objects crafted by human hand are understood only in terms of their monetary value, we are poised on the edge of cultural collapse.

Matti Bergström, a professor and neurophysiologist from Finland, said the following:
The density of nerve endings in our fingertips is enormous. Their discrimination is almost as good as that of our eyes. If we don't use our fingers, if in childhood and youth we become "finger-blind " this rich network of nerves is impoverished-which represents a huge loss to the brain and thwarts the individual's all-around development. Such damage may be likened to blindness itself. Perhaps worse, while a blind person may simply not be able to find this or that object, the finger-blind cannot understand its inner meaning and value.

If we neglect to develop and train our children's fingers and the creative form building capacity of their hand muscles, then we neglect to develop their understanding of the unity of things; we thwart their aesthetic and creative powers.

Those who shaped our age-old traditions always understood this. But today, Western civilization, an information-obsessed society that over values science and undervalues true worth, has forgotten it all. We are "value-damaged."

The philosophy of our upbringing is science-centered, and our schools are programmed toward that end.... These schools have no time for the creative potential of the nimble fingers and hand, and that arrests the all-round development of our children and of the whole community.
We need to fill our schools with objects that have cultural significance. We need to engage our children in making objects of useful beauty. In every culture throughout the world, important stories and cultural values are at risk as generations tune in to the constant chatter of iPods, communicate with text or speech alone, and miss the quiet reflective opportunities that arise when stories are told through our own hands.

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