There are a lot of words that flood past my brain on any given day. I can filter out most of them without thinking. Others can be sorted with a moment or two of direct attention and then there are others that stick with me. I carry these ideas around in my brain, considering them, testing them, and turning them around to examine them from every angle.
Last week, it was these words that kept me thinking:
“Don’t get me wrong. Discussing craft is important. I just don’t think you should talk about it much until you have done it – a lot.”
Chris Schwarz wrote these words as part of a very important extended argument about the importance of words, how we use them, how we sometimes use them against each other (intentionally or not), and what it might mean to eschew the metanarrative of “buy-use-repeat,” by picking up some tools and learning to craft our own stories.
If I were to try to describe the conversation between tools and words that the aforementioned article puts forth, it is a process that I might describe as a practical dialectic, if I were to use words at all.*
Whistle while you work, but work before you write.
For me, putting words to paper (or pixels) is really just how I comprehend what happens when I put blade to wood. It’s a reflective process. A thinking-out-loud. Perhaps that is why, at least for the moment, I write less about the “how” of woodworking and spend so much time considering the “why.” I write mostly out of enthusiasm and inquiry, but I seek to temper that with experience all along the way.
The dialectic is between what is written and what is swept up off of my workshop floor each evening, but I’m not sure I’ve practiced the craft enough to talk or write about it as much as I do. I need to give some thought to that while I’m making shavings on my workbench this week.
In any event, I can certainly get on board with this sentiment:
*(Socrates gave us the word for this kind of thinking “διαλεκτική” and Hegel ran it into the ground, but the grossly oversimplified idea is that when different or opposing perspectives are held in tension with one another, it can bring you closer to a true understanding of the relationship between them. In this case, it’s not so much opposing viewpoints but the interplay between practice and reflection,or to use a musical analogy, the melody is found in both the notes and the spaces between them.)