Sunday, January 06, 2013

proliferation of hand tools.

My own hammer
Last night a friend came over for dinner who has a collection of guns inherited from his brother, and seems to have bought into the notion that guns actually offer no problem to our society. His line of thought, standard to the NRA has been that gun violence is not a gun problem, but rather a people problem and that all in all there have been more murders with machetes (counting the horrors of Rwanda) than with guns. He rebutted his own argument when he noted that a school teacher facing a crazed-machete-wielding maniac, could have protected her children with a chair.

But since the proliferation-of-guns-in-society problem is bigger than the both of us, and will not be solved by the humble writings or comments in this blog, let's turn to a more pleasant matter, the purposeful proliferation of hand tools. Folks will not need concealed carry permits to own and use hand tools, and these simple tools have the capacity to restore the intelligence, the moral fiber and the productive capacity of our nation.  Folks will need training, but that is just part of the process through which human culture evolved and through which it will be sustained if we so choose. Vejdi Avsar wrote in response to the article in Arkansas Life, Wise Hands,
"I have been working with hand tools throughout my life as a craftsman. This interesting bond between hand tools and a human is, in a sense, a bridge between the brain and hand. The only way hand tools will work for you is if you communicate with them. This might sound silly for someone who doesn't have this close relationship with them. The truth is, your thoughts are becoming tangible through the actions of the hand tools such as cutting a tenon or dovetail, and so on. The matter here is not so much the tenon or dovetail but it is trying to follow the pencil or knife line. This is where the actual communication begins.

"What you are doing is something that should be recognized, particularly working with kids and giving them the opportunity to bring out one of the stepping stones of becoming a human being. Because working with hand tools will teach them to understand themselves, much better than any help from outside."
Thomas Carlyle (1785-1891) said:
"Man is a tool using animal. He can use tools, can devise tools; with these the granite mountains melt in light dust before him; he kneads iron as if it were soft paste; seas are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all!"
My initials carved at age 9 or 10
And so to ignore our human inclination to express ourselves through the use of tools is foolish. But which tools do we want to encourage, those that offer creative capacity, or those which present the specter of untimely death? If guns are merely tools, as some claim, let's at least not lie to ourselves about the death and destruction that they are intended to accomplish.

 The photos above and below show my earliest acquisition in my own collection of tools. The Plumb hammer was given to me by my dad when I was 9 or 10 years old. I carved my initials in the wooden handle to mark it as my own. I was not completely pleased at the time, with the amateurish results, but the carving and I have worn to like each other. 

I have this theory that putting folks in touch with their own creative capacities will alleviate their need to connect with society's dark fantasies and destructive inclinations. And so the proliferation of hand tools is a very good thing. Give them to your children to get them started on the right road to life in a meaningful society and best possible understanding of self.

I am reminded of an artist who came up to me after I spoke at a conference. She complained that she had bought woodworking tools for her grandson, but the daughter-in-law refused to allow them in the house because "her son would make a mess." What a sorry mess she's making of her son by neglecting his creative capacity!

Make, fix and create...

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