Thursday, February 25, 2010

development of grip

As children first learn to use a hammer, they grip it up near the head as shown, and as they gain strength and confidence, their grip recedes down the length of the handle. I am working on the chapter of the Wisdom of the Hands book that has to do with the ways in which tool making and use influence the development of intelligence, so these drawings are to help illustrate that discussion. You can compare the grip in the illustration above with the grip on the rock from the post earlier in the week. Grip is not merely a matter of strength, but of accuracy.

The movement of the hand from the head to the end of the handle parallels the development of the handle in history, but fortunately takes less time. Man has been making tools for well over a million years, but the handle is a fairly recent invention, arriving only 35,000 years ago. Steam came two hundred years ago, applying tremendous mechanical force to man-made tools. Mechanical automation then became a part of industrial processes and then the computer arrived. Each of these have gradually removed the need for human skill and attention in the manipulation of our environment.

Can you believe it started with a handle? So how do we get a grip, now that so many factors have pushed beyond our control?

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