July 29, 2014
whether theoretical or practical, which issue at any particular stage in their history in types of judgment and activity which are rationally justified as the best so far, in the light of those formulations of the relevant standards of achievement which are rationally justified as the best so far. And this is no less true when the
– Alasdair MacIntyre, 1990
April 18, 2014
April 1, 2014
|John Sokol, word portrait of Thoreau (1982)|
– Henry David Thoreau (1860)
March 25, 2014
March 22, 2014
March 20, 2014
At that point it becomes appropriate to speak of technique rather than craft. Technique, as I would define it, involves not only a poet's way with words, his management of metre, rhythm and verbal texture; it involves also a definition of his stance towards life, a definition of his own reality. It involves the discovery of ways to go out of his normal cognitive bounds and raid the inarticulate: a dynamic alertness that mediates between the origins of feeling in memory and experience and the formal ploys that express these in a work of art. Technique entails the watermarking of your essential patterns of perception, voice and thought into the touch and texture of your lines; it is that whole creative effort of the mind's and body's resources to bring the meaning of experience within the jurisdiction of form. Technique is what turns, in Yeats's phrase, 'the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast' into 'an idea, something intended, complete.
– Seamus Heaney (1974)
March 19, 2014
– Alexis de Tocqueville (1835)
March 18, 2014
When the script preaches instead of the preacher,
When the pulpit descends and goes instead of the carver that
carved the supporting desk,
When I can touch the body of books by night or by day, and
when they touch my body back again,
When a university course convinces like a slumbering woman and
When the minted gold in the vault smiles like the night-watchman's
When warrantee deeds loafe in chairs opposite and are my friendly
I intend to reach them my hand, and make as much of them as
I do of men and women like you.
– Walt Whitman (1855)
March 17, 2014
Finally, there should grow the most austere of all mental qualities; I mean the sense for style. It is an aesthetic sense, based on admiration for the direct attainment of a foreseen end, simply and without waste. Style in art, style in literature, style in science, style in logic, style in practical execution have fundamentally the same aesthetic qualities, namely, attainment and restraint. . . .
Here we are brought back to the position from which we started, the utility of education. Style, in its finest sense, is the last acquirement of the educated mind; it is also the most useful. It pervades the whole being. The administrator with a sense for style hates waste; the engineer with a sense for style economises his material; the artisan with a sense for style prefers good work. Style is the ultimate morality of mind.
But above style, and above knowledge, there is something, a vague shape like fate above the Greek gods. That something is Power. Style is the fashioning of power, the restraining of power. But, after all, the power of attainment of the desired end is fundamental. The first thing is to get there. Do not bother about your style, but solve your problem, justify the ways of God to man, administer your province, or do whatever else is set before you.
-- Alfred North Whitehead (1929)
March 16, 2014
March 14, 2014
What this means is that you must learn to use your life experience in your intellectual work: continually examine and interpret it. In this sense craftsmanship is the center of yourself and you are personally involved in every intellectual product upon which you may work . . .
Imagination is often successfully invited by putting together hitherto isolated items, by finding unsuspected connections . . . I do not know the full social conditions of the best intellectual worksmanship, but certainly surrounding oneself by a circle of people who will listen and talk – and at times they have to be imaginary characters – is one of them . . .
There is an unexpected quality about [imagination], perhaps because its essence is the combination of ideas that no one expected were combinable . . . There is a playfulness of mind back of such combining as well as a truly fierce drive to make sense of the world, which a technician usually lacks. Perhaps he is too well trained, too precisely trained. Since one can be trained only in what is already known, training sometimes incapacitates one from learning new ways; it makes one rebel against what is bound to be at first loose and even sloppy. But you must cling to such vague images and notions, if they are yours, and you must work them out. For it is in such forms that original ideas, if any, almost always first appear . . .
Thinking is a struggle for order and at the same time for comprehensiveness. You must not stop thinking too soon – or you will fail to know all that you should; you cannot leave it to go on forever, or you yourself will burst. It is this dilemma, I suppose, that makes reflection, on those rare occasions when it is more or less successful, the most passionate endeavor of which the human being is capable.
Be a good craftsman: Avoid any rigid set of procedures. Above all, seek to develop and to use the . . . imagination. Avoid the fetishism of method and technique. Urge the rehabilitation of the unpretentious intellectual craftsman, and try to become such a craftsman yourself.
– C. Wright Mills (1959)
March 13, 2014
And observe, you are put to stern choice in this matter. You must either make a tool of the creature, or a man of him. You cannot make both. Men are not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be precise and perfect in all their actions. If you will have that precision out of them, and make their fingers measure degrees like cogwheels, and their arms strike curves like compasses, you must unhumanize them. All the energy of their spirits must be given to make cogs and compasses of themselves. All their attention and strength must go to the accomplishment of the mean act. The eye of the soul must be bent upon the finger point, and the soul's force must fill all the invisible nerves that guide it, ten hours a day, that it may not err from its steely precision, and so soul and sight be worn away, and the whole human being be lost at last – a heap of sawdust, so far as its intellectual work in this world is concerned: saved only by its Heart, which cannot go into the form of cogs and compasses, but expands, after the ten hours are over, into fireside humanity. On the other hand, if you will make a man of the working creature, you cannot make a tool.
March 12, 2014
|"Deliverance from a Gilded Cage" (1994)|
– Bruce Metcalf (2007)
March 11, 2014
– Robert Scholes (2002)
in the spirit level,
a creature divided;
and the compass needle
wobbling and wavering,
Freed – the broken
and the rainbow-bird
from the narrow bevel
of the empty mirror,
it feels like, gay!
March 10, 2014
– Noam Chomsky (2014)
March 9, 2014
But the craft of the hand is richer than we commonly imagine. The hand does not only grasp and catch, or push and pull. The hand reaches and extends, receives, and welcomes – and not just things: the hand extends itself, and receives its own welcome in the hands of others. The hand holds. The hand carries. The hand designs and signs, presumably because man is a sign. Two hands are folded into one, a gesture meant to carry man into the great oneness. The hand is all thing, and this is the handicraft. Everything is rooted here that is commonly known as handicraft, and commonly we go no further. But the hand's gestures run everywhere through language, in their most perfect purity precisely when man speaks by being silent. And only when man speaks, does he think – not the other way around, as metaphysics still believes. Every motion of the hand in every one of its works carries itself through the element of thinking, every hearing of the hand bears itself in that element. All the work of the hand is rooted in thinking. Therefore, thinking itself is man's simplest, and for that reason hardest, handiwork, if it would be accomplished at its proper time.
– Martin Heidegger (1968)
Teaching conditions were not ideal. Study groups would work together on the quarry and station themselves in a circle around the leader of the seminar. The style of teaching was Socratic in nature; ideas and theories were elucidated through the leaders asking and answering questions. . . .
As these courses became known in the general section, we began to get queries from our men on the other side. This started what became a kind of correspondence course with the prisoners in the general section. The teachers would smuggle lectures over to them and they would respond with questions and comments.
This was beneficial for us as well as for them. These men had little formal education, but a great knowledge of the hardships of the world. Their concerns tended to be practical rather than philosophical. . . . Such questions were immensely valuable and forced one to think hard about one's views.
– Nelson Mandela (1995)
Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.
The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. . . . We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.
– Hannah Arendt (1960)
– Robert Pirsig (1974)
|William Blake (1791)|
illustration to Wollstonecraft's
Original Stories from Real Life
– Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)
– Elliott Eisner (1983)
– Richard D. Parry (1995)
– Allen Eaton (1937)
Too many of the planners, I feel, are trying to look ahead by looking backward. Too many are seeking the future in the past. I find in many of their speeches an attempt to solve everything by their pet economic theories – the same attempt that has nearly ruined us during the last ten or fifteen years. The study and practice of sound economics is indispensable to a successful solution of the peace. And yet even sound economics cannot define the aim of the peace, nor the aim of the war. To discover that aim we must go deeper. We must establish beyond any doubt the equality of men. And we shall find this equality, not in the different talents which we severally possess, nor in the different incomes which we severally earn, but in the great franchise of the mind, the universal franchise, which is bounded neither by color, nor by creed, nor by social status. Open the books, if you wish to be free.
– Daniel Chambliss and Christopher Takacs (2014)
– Marshall Gregory (1998)
It avoids absolutes, certainties, over-robust definitions, solace.
It offers places, interstices, where objects and people meet.
It is unstable, contingent.
It is about experience. It is about desire.
It can be beautiful.
– Edmund de Waal (2011)
March 7, 2014
– Harvard Business Review (2014)
March 6, 2014
– Mary Carruthers (2000)
– Alexander F. Chamberlin (1903)
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.
– Dylan Thomas (1946)
– Walter Benjamin, citing Karl Marx (1867)
March 5, 2014
|Ain Sakhri lovers figurine (British Museum)|
– E. G. Ballard (1989)
March 4, 2014
– Jiro Ono
March 3, 2014
Instead of the lock-step of compulsory schooling in a fixed place, work in piecemeal ways to decentralize the process of learning and enrich it through contact with many places and people all over the city: workshops, teachers at home or walking through the city, professionals willing to take on the young as helpers, older children teaching younger children, museums, youth groups traveling, scholarly seminars, industrial workshops, old people, and so on. Conceive of all these situations as forming the backbone of the learning process; survey all these situations, describe them, and publish them as the city's "curriculum"; then let students, children, their families and neighborhoods weave together for themselves the situations that comprise their "school" . . . Build new educational facilities in a way which extends and enriches this network.
Above all, encourage the formation of seminars and workshops in people's homes . . .
– Christopher Alexander (1977)
– Friedrich Nietzsche (1889)