Sunday, March 8, 2015

End of odds

Cut my finger today. This time the left hand. The chisel was only sharpened to 400 grit, thanks god.

I wanted to buy set of chisels in buyee but for some mysterious reason I decided to unpack my chisels from the bag and take a look at them, to see how many I got:

A few didn't make it to the picture:

I decided I had enough and that I needed to sharpen them  and clean them before getting new ones. That was friday, saturday and sunday morning.

Since a friend of Julia was coming to play the game we are making, I used the excuse to clean a bit. This week my new diamond stone arrived so I felt I should re organise my sharpening. I even washed the rags, it's incredible how useful clean rags are.

The diamond stone is awesome. Straight edge flat and fast as crazy. It makes a really nice set up with my Naniwa stones, which I strongly recommend on the finer grit of the spectrum, the 400 is a bit too soft and it wears fast.

I'm going from the 5000 stone to a natural. Sometimes. Other I just stop there. Example of the finish:

And a bit of showing off

I call that the 34 mark, my mnemotechnics to remember the kanji. I'm looking for a kanna from that guy.

This is the game we are making with Julia.

The frame is wood, with some mitered half lap whatever joint:

And my sharpening friend came to play. It's a horse hair hand made lizard form Chile, an old woman makes them there, it's a typical craft of the centre zone of Chile.

The game is a "gardonopoly", a mix between monopoly, catan settlers and relational art. Needs some work but it was fun to play.  With the money of the game I bought this little plane.

Feels like blue steel and I love the texture.

And the lack of respect the last guy had with the dai. Full of saw marks, but the business end was really well taken care of, a joy to use.

So, back to sharpening... I was sanding the handle of one of the small mortice chisels when I learnt the hard way that I should put tape on the edge when I'm doing that. I morticed my finger slightly.

Then I spent most of the day reading. Japanese home and its surrounding:

The guy is an american who goes to Japan in 1880 or so. His notes are not so technical, the guy was a zoologist, but the drawings are quite nice and the descriptions are very evocative.

This, of course, made me think of Tanisaki's "In Praise of Shadows". I read it long time ago, it appeared on a "El Caminante",  an argentinean or spanish magazine my father had laying around. Then I bought the book and must be somewhere in Chile, but today I just took a look at the pdf

In the essay he's complaining about the westernisation of Japan, and all the troubles it takes to try to have the cake and eat it. The cake of modernity that is. There's a lot of toilet talk too: "modern sanitary facilities" as he calls it. Let's note that by modern he means flushing nutrients away into the sea.

I remember that when I read the essay long time ago I thought that western's enlightenment was the light of the atomic bomb falling over Japan. It kinda made sense since the bomb was a state secret and there was no way to describe it besides a bomb of light. Tasteless metaphor.

He finishes the essay asking for keeping a tad of darkness on the realm of art, in particular literature's mansion:
I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we may be allows at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see what it is like without them.

See what's like without em. Sounds good.

Which brings me to the final point of this sunday night.

This was going to be called "the plot that changed my life":

Hope you can read the caption. It says electricity used per unit of material processed for various manufacturing processes. It relates the amount of energy you need to produce something with how fast (measured in kilos per hour) you to produce it.  Taken from here

Essentially, time (as in history of technology) goes from right to left, from the high-output low-energy processes (like machining or grinding) to low-output high-energy process as carbon nanotube production and the stuff you need to make RAM memories. 

Note that the scale is logarithmic, so there is a factor ten between each line of the plot. 

When people tells me that global warming will be solved by technology, I just point to that plot. The more you "develop" the more energy you consume, the more you heat the planet the faster you die. 

Ergo, there's no fucking way of keep business as usual and cool down the planet. 

But that's not the worse of it. The problem is the existential poorness. 

Which brings me finally to what I wanted to say. I don't really hate americans, there are a few I like. This is one of those: 

That's a summary of Norman O. Brown's book "Life against death", a sociological study of Freud's ideas. Totally worth reading. 

It's kind of obvious to me that we live in a sick society. Sickness have symptoms. Our social symptoms are becoming planetary, which should be at the very least make us change our ways. But we keep on going.

For money? For the next iPhone? To quote Redoles, los pobres vendieron sus conciencias por unos micro-ondas. 

We should listen to Sturt again, when he assures us that
... no higher wage, no income, will buy for men that satisfaction which of old – until machinery made drudges of them – streamed into their muscles all day long from close contact with iron, timber, clay, wind and wave, horse-strength. It tingled up in the niceties of touch, sight, scent.... But these intimacies are over. 

I read this quote and I need to think of van Eyck, who signed his works with a "Als ich kann", as I can, or the best I can...

And that self conscious ego, who knew that he could, created the divine. Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est, reads the Magnificat. Who has made me magnificent, he is mighty. I love the logic of it: because I am great, god must be even greater. 

I quote Jakob Böhme in a book from 1620:
The hands symbolize the omnipotence of God, because just a God can transform everything in nature and make whatever he wants out of it, so the human being, with his hands, can transform anything in nature that grows or becomes, and can make with his hands whatever he wants; he rules the whole work and being of nature with his hands, and they rightly symbolize the omnipotence of God. (Quoted on The body of the Artisan, Smith 2004, p161)
How to read this? The other way around of course. God simbolize the omnipotence of the hands, because just as the hands can transform nature, so we imagine god to be powerful. (A simple evolutive analysis is helpful here, we first got hands and tools, then the gods came.)

Catch my drift? That's the kind of world that a society that makes things by hands gets to live in. That's how I imagine things are when we turn off the electric lights.

Now, and just for the sake of putting Foie-gras on a rabbit hot-dog (thanks Chicago),  how do we read Nietzsche's comment that God is dead? Remember my dream of Marx coming to the table of Alice in Wonderland saying that "it's the mean of production, stupid!"? Well that's it, precisely. Nietzsche's assertion of God's death is the confrontation with the fact that, as society, we have been living like blind kitties. We live in the world but we are not able to engage materially with it, and thus we become blind to God's existence, understood here as the power that man has to shape his world with his own hands in a purposeful way.

What we have today is pure neurosis. We say we want A but we do everything in order to not obtaining A, up to the point of making the world unliveable,  to the point where we actually cannot obtain anything anymore, pure Todestried. We are shaping the world, in a scale never before imagined, but not in the way we want it, not in the way that anyone would want it.

And that's sick.  

We want to play, with our full bodies, and with the world. 

We better start soon doing it. 


  1. Dear Sebastian,

    More and more your blog is the only one I can bear.


    1. I wonder if it's the flamish art...?

      Thanks for the compliment Don. Hopefully soon enough the background will get more interesting, not so much apartment crap and a bit of real life woodworking coming in.


  2. Coincidently, I cut my right index finger this past week. This was also a cut into my mental stability; a productive sunny day of drawing and planing, followed by a blue-grey-zero of a day. The good news is there is enough wood to make it through Spring. While looking on the shelves for Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience", I found "Soil & Civilization" by Edward Hyams which may not support your theory of hands, but fits with it like jigsaw puzzle pieces, the image forming a mirror (with my own face in it) and if I could just mix in just one more metaphor, It would be a slightly less blue-grey-zero day.

    BTW, looks like an interesting game.

    1. Hope today is better over there, or tomorrow, depending on your time zone.

      Thanks for the book, I will print it and read it next month. Read the first page and liked the tone.

      And the game is nice, Julia did a good job with the social-interaction cards. I'm not a fan of that kind of shit (the game is for a inter-cultural communal garden) but we managed to have 3 hours of good interaction. We will see how it ends up.

      Hope spring is finally coming over there, here is taking ages and every night is winter again.