Thursday, February 14, 2008

We are tired

Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman continues an argument begun in the 19th century, when writers such as John Ruskin and William Morris extolled the crafts remembered in our surnames (Smith, Cartwright, Thatcher, Mason, Fletcher) while lamenting the mind-numbing and soul-destroying labour of the industrial process which was replacing them. A long line of thinkers, from Hegel and Marx to Sennett’s teacher Hannah Arendt, have sympathised with the argument. But Sennett does not think that craftsmanship has vanished from our world.

The word "craftsman" summons an immediate image. Peering through a window into a carpenter's shop, you see an elderly man surrounded by his apprentices and his tools. Order reigns within: parts of chairs are clamped neatly together, the smell of wood shavings fills the room, the carpenter bends over his bench to make a fine incision for marquetry. The shop is menaced by a furniture factory down the road.
The craftsman might also be glimpsed at a nearby laboratory. There, a young lab technician is frowning at a table on which six dead rabbits are splayed on their backs, their bellies slit open. She is frowning because something has gone wrong with the injection she has given them; she is trying to figure out if she did the procedure wrong, or if there is something wrong with the procedure.
A third craftsman might be heard in the town's concert hall. There, an orchestra is rehearsing with a visiting conductor; he works obsessively with the string section, going over and over a passage to make the musicians draw their bows at exactly the same speed across the strings. The string players are tired, but also exhilarated because their sound is becoming coherent. The orchestra's manager is worried: if the visiting conductor keeps on, the rehearsal will move into overtime, costing management extra wages. The conductor is oblivious
read more Here and Here)
Photo of Itche Mambush from Ein Hod Site

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