Monday, November 15, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One last thought from The Craftsman

"Both the difficulties and possibilities of making things well apply to making human relationships. Material challenges like working with resistance or managing ambiguity are instructive in understanding the resistances people harbor to one another or the uncertain boundaries between people."

--Richard Sennett, The Craftsman

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Day of the Dead--or Election Day, whichever.

I'm almost done reading The Craftsman by Richard Sennett (it's sort of dense, so I'm taking my time). And here are a few more notable passages:

"You can teach a man to draw a straight line; to strike a curved line, and to carve it...with admirable speed and precision; and you will find his work perfect of its kind: but if you ask him to think about any of those forms, to consider if he cannot find any better in his own head, he stops; his execution becomes hesitating; he thinks, and ten to one he thinks wrong; ten to one he makes a mistake in the first touch he gives his work as a thinking being. But you have made a man of him for all that, he was only a machine before, an animated tool."
--actually a passage by John Ruskin, quoted in The Craftsman.

Regarding job retraining:
"Artisanal craftsmen have proved particularly promising subjects for such efforts. The discipline required for good manual labor serves them, as does their focus on concrete problems rather than on the flux of process-based, human relations work. For this very reason if has proved easier to train a plumber to become a computer programmer than to train a salesperson; the plumber has craft habit and material focus, which serve retraining. Employers often don't see this opportunity because they equate manual routine with mindless labor."