‘There use to be in Anstey the men who fell the trees and barked them. After felling they’d go round sheering the sheep. And all took interest in their work by hand, they think to make their work look and last well. It will be a pity we shall see no more the craftmanship of our villages. If the world travels as fast as the last one we shall not hear the sky lark in the morning nor the nightingale in the eve.‘Quote from family history (1960s’)
I can not help but regard the above quote with an appealing romantic undertone of what would be a good hard day’s work followed by a pleasant warm evening spent sleeping peacefully under a starry night sky. The idea of craftsmanship and nature is an inviting one and I am at a wonder loss that so much has been encroached upon by the industrialisation and mechanical processes of the so called modern age. The preoccupation with the technocratic and managerial processes of a looming fourth age is felt to arguably threaten and perhaps in some cases brought others amiss of truly communable craft, its work and the natural environment. The ideas of what constitutes craft is no doubt important and to be discussed but also the concern that craft which involves meaningful communication is devolving by infiltrated limits of restricted time, administrative print and short term consumer society values.
It fascinates me that an incongruity can exist between what we are told craft is or is not and what we believe we should or shouldn’t experience in association to it. Incongruity is felt to be a very usual human experience and not unreasonable to apply to a relevant understanding of modern things. And so the world thus can become confusing to us with representations of whether certain craftmanship is to be termed as simply good, clearly bad or of a lower order.
I am interested to re-evaluate and constitute an idea and concept of craft as denoted by one of its arguable requisites being communication and in so much as what it communicates, how it communicates and communication as a multifaceted craft within itself (this is by no means a finite list). It should be in no doubt I will make an unusual (perhaps to be considered exotic) attempt with what I consider notable worthy components of Taoism with relevance where appropriate to nature.
Some thoughts on Craft:
Craft usually denotes the idea and application of manmade skill(s) located and grounded in the physical world in order to make something. The hands can often be said to be associated with the means to create or convey a craft. It is through this means of the hands as primary tools of making stuff which direct, mould and textualise the shape of what is thus crafted. The central concept of interest is in an idea of craft being ‘the mind of man as skilfully witnessed in creating through the conveyance of the hands’. In context of craft and in some thought of taking this one step further would be to consider if possible the body as a proximal secondary extension of the hands in relation (but also to a now associated altered view) to where the physical location of mind resides. To offer a relevant personal quote would be to say ‘the mind as hands in their movement allows the body to follow (to be shaped)’.
The hands take on a fascinating concept in this view of skill(s) and craft in so far as what they can do for the body and as a wonderful communicator of what initially begins in the mind’s eye or to otherwise say what the mind clearly visualises as a guide to what can be achieved physically. At a perhaps extreme and premature conclusion (before discussion) if it could be said the body in some way becomes integral as if hands themselves and as such integral to mind itself – ‘and so both body, hand and mind are all described as one overarching tool to convey skill in order to craft’.
This premature conclusion is an important step to note in that although it may bare fruitful work on understanding what craft might eventually consist of it also denotes the already apparent presuppositions of thought. Such presupposition if allowed to go unchecked might just represent the greater likelihood of constraining other useful views and promote a idea towards unnecessary conflict. In a sense the immaturity of an idea is a real risk if not also best, reasonably or properly understood in context of what craft is not and the potential to how craft might evolve.
It might be true to say craft may at some greater or lesser point involve aesthetics or art but however close its relationship it does not necessarily equate a definitive explanation as a craft. It might also be said it can not be conclusively defined as a measure of something but may intrinsically involve measurement or science in its construction. Craft might often be associated in working with sculpture or materials such as wood and metals but does not mean the boundaries of understanding are limitative to such typical examples. Whilst craft could be said to take time in learning and applying technique with skill it does not mean to say it can be achieved within constraints of time limits.
The boundaries of what is and what is not craft is an interesting place where ambiguity may allow understanding to pass on through to another view that might have otherwise constrained its potential and evolution. The boundaries represent traditional ideas of craft and limitative thought. The boundaries may also consist in the recognition of contrasts where one constitute of craft may not equate to another understanding of it.
The concept of Yin and Yang proves a useful concept in so far as envisaging how contrasted constitutes of craft may in fact paradoxically or coexist at the same time. Differing perceptions of craft may add to binary perspectives becoming more likely and so also creating misleading clarity between boundaries of what is right or wrong, or yes to one view and no to another. But this is where it can also gets interesting as aspects of skill involved within a craft may carry across to its opposite or a view of great contrast. Our views of what is craft can also change over periods of time, which aren’t simply linear limited and binary but in fact possess a fluidity that can alter traditional questions to what is craft?
What maybe yes and no questions to the constitutes of craft may in fact become questions of is this the right question or only perspective to consider right now?
The existence of alternate or opposite views to what is craft could in fact compliment the other in so much as offering a rich tapestry of not only one choice but to further the discussion and evolution of what it could be?
The question of how craft might become doesn’t necessarily lead to one evolution or the idea that opposite views will eventually compliment each other as an amalgamation. The idea of complimentary opposites may goes so far as to say they simply keep healthy conversation, thoughts and ideas moving forward.
Aspects of communication are many under terms of human speech, body language and what is observed or understood from the non-human (nature and the encompassing world). Within the craft of conveyance skills such as compassion, well rounded regard and humility (loosely understood as the three treasures) where accepted can all thought to be important in any attempt at real meaningful communication with others but also self. Yet even where such skills are proven important what informs their use and acts (alone or in conjunction with each other) through technique may possess distinctly different or contrasting properties of development and progressive learning. Such a craft where considered advanced in its raw honesty may posses an almost contradictive (Yin and Yang like) human frailty of thought and action, not necessarily to be resisted but humanely understood and at best overcome.
Unfinished free flow of ideas to explore:
* Nature (environment) and Mind as one * crafting natural and naturalistic structures as communication (ziran displayed as sponteniaty in keeping with the surroundings/ Kotodarma – the voice or sound and Wu Wei – the effortless flow) * hand as cues * nature as extension of cues and conveyance. Tao (plural information external(s) and internal(s) – Yin and Yang/contrasts. three treasured tree as intrinsic branches akin to many fingers. Water as a 1. mirror, 2. as stillness 3. as flow.