Monday, June 28, 2010

Simply Beautiful Boxes at Marc Adams, day one.

We finished our first day of making decorative wooden boxes at Marc Adams School, having had design lecture, safety talk and beginning demonstrations. This afternoon the students were turned loose to have fun. By late afternoon, most had cut near perfect miters for making their first boxes. In two or three days, each will be making boxes following their own creative inclinations. More photos will come later.

A blog reader, Nick, who teaches shop in British Columbia reminded me of the writings of Karl Marx, as follows:
Also relevant for me is Karl Marx's concept of alienation. According to Marx, man is self-actualized (becomes human) when he makes things that others then use. The Industrial Revolution and the resulting capitalist organization of production separates man from his product (through factory work) thus alienating him from his essential being. When I studied Marx in philosophy 101 and came across this concept, it was one of those "aha" moments for me that helped explain the satisfaction I got from building things and the sometimes emptiness that I saw in the lives of acquaintances who were not creative in any way, who merely saw themselves as "consumers".
I haven't studied Marx, but I was surprised one time when I was telling a college honors student about my woodworking program and was informed by him that he thought it sounded "Marxist". Maybe he was right, though I would prefer to think that any human being paying attention to the kinds of feelings one gets from making things would arrive at the same conclusions concerning satisfaction and alienation. The principles and effects are universal.

Alienation is certainly alive and well in American consumer culture, as shopping and owning have become poor, unsatisfying substitutes for feelings of personal creativity.

Most human beings are complicated in our judgments and simple in our perceptions of others. So we would paint Marx in the worst of colors without ever coming to an understanding of the value of the full range of his thoughts. On balance, most of the philosophers I've studied have been regarded right in some things, and wrong in others, as perhaps you and I will be remembered.

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