Sunday, January 31, 2016

What I learnt today, or the lessons of a zombie-apocalypse anime

It's been a weird month this last one. Or shall I say first one? Sinquenza left a few weeks ago to assist to his grandfather funeral in NL and today Alex left for Cuba to box.

Next sunday we should be leaving for Puerto Varas to bring to life the first summer school on japochilean carpentry. We are making 4 hip roof models and then joining them together into a roof.

As I've been organising the event and meeting the people who will join I started to realise something. We are quite similar, all of us. Not in the long curly hair only, but we share some experiences, or perhaps ways of experiencing things that makes us get together and try to build something by hand. And the awkward moment several months ago when Keiran and Jose came for that first lesson and me trying to understand why they wanted to be there, and do that that we were doing has given way to a comprehension of how we humans feel good when making something.

And it's getting very visceral this thing. You meet someone new as today with Matias, you smell each other like dogs on the street, and get to work fast and easy.

Which brings me to the talk we were having with Alex at lunch, about how fucked up is Chile and if you are born in the wrong place you are pretty sure to end up just there or maybe worse. On how they have everything there in europe, yet they don't. And how we have so many things here, yet we lack... we lack respect, decency, trust, proper job contracts and some kind of health support, the knowledge that if you need, there is someone you can count with on (learn english you wanker).  And then Alex says something like it would be too easy to live here, and forget about the immigrants in Germany her friends are helping or the kurdish people other go to fight with...

She also asked me about how are the political groups here in Chile and I say just crap, we are too indoctrinated by neoliberalism to think that we can do things together, and benefit from that. Jedes für sich und Gott gegen alle.  Each for himself and got against everyone.

And that was when the big tits of the picture made sense.

Highschool of the Dead is a japanese anime that I find utterly political and intelligent. It's like a modern fable that teach young nerds how to fight the revolution against the zombies. The plot is just as a typical zombie movie: someone wants to enter the high school and bites one teacher. Soon 99% of the people has turned into flesh eating zombies and a few kids get together to stay alive.

When Alex told me about the fight in Germany my answer was something like you don't need to look too far to find people harmed by capitalism. True we are not refugees here but if you are born poor you are gonna die poor, and most probably violent, abused, hurt and just have a shitty life, shitty job, shitty wife and children. For reasons that you don't control and you cannot control. My point was, I think now, the zombies are fucking everywhere, you don't need to be in any particular place to fight them.

But you cannot fight them alone.

That's why you need tits, to bring people together, as my story of the empathy I feel with my students shows.


Let me put it in some Freudian terms if no psychologist in the room feels offended for bringing Freud to a woodworking blog. What are tits for Freud? The first object of love. And not only an object, but when experiencing them the boundaries between self and other are blurred and the world feels good. You know, like resting your head on tits. (You can ask me for the reference but I rather send you to read love against dead, by Norman O. Brown.)

That's what sharpening is about. You learn to relate with objects in lovely way. You develop a sensory motor loop with the steel, the stone and your hands that connect you to a certain elusive object of the world that is sharpness. And when you learn to relate to it your world becomes larger, and furthermore, it becomes larger in a very specific way, a way that is not determined by your fancy but by the steel's fancy. That's why I can understand what you feel when you are sharpening, because we have a common ground. This common ground is the world, which is accessible to everyone independent of their sex, colour, or place where they are born.

This is what the zombi ideology managed so well to makes us forget here in Chile. We feel we are all different. A person is simply the sum total of what they can buy, and there is enough stuff to be bought to assure that we are all different from each other.

So next time somebody asks me how are the political groups in Chile, I can, hopefully, reply: "Great, they are building japanese roofs and fighting zombies."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Here it is:

Some people complain because they have their workshops in the garage, I have it in the toilet.

This was a random picture from when sharpening in the sun. Things dry fast and that was not even sharp.

A small present for  a ocuple of friends, in Laurelia sempervirens.

 This is the view from the toilet. For me it's quite normal, but for Alex, german girl friend of Julia, took one week going to starbuks to make her needs to get used to it.

Sharpening station and kanna holder

The view from the eating place

This is the kitchen with some bolivian oak, it may work for dais actually.

Now for the update: Summer School 2016 is happening in Ensenada, close to the real south of Chile and we are building a small hip roof with nothing under. Maybe a place for the bbq or what not. From feb. 8th to 20th.

Something else? Oh yeah, this was a christmas' picture:

Happy 2016.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


(This is my addition to an ongoing conversation with Henrik Lutzen, triggered by a post of Michael Langford, and is an answer to Henrik's comment: "If you have any ideas about how some sort of group discussion forum could be set up and how we actually might move a conversation into the thick, let me know." This is how I think we should talk about crafts.)

Talk the truth is a funky business. You can get killed, as Socrates or Jebus, or fired as anyone who tells the truth to his or her boss knows.

If we want to talk about why we do what we do the way we do, we need to be honest. Like in "I work to soothe the pain of my dead mother." Honesty comes only when you talk from your self. You don't put a hat and become woodworker, and talk from that expert position — you need to put your guts into it.

I mean yeah, you can do it, and that's what science is about. People talk about something, but to talk about that something doesn't matter if you are sad, angry, happy or half dead. Knowledge is that thing that doesn't care about us. Permaculture puts first the care of the earth and the care of the people. What's the point of talking about sharp if we cannot talk about the difficulties we have in our marriage, all the bullshit one has to go through when one has cancer,  or how retarded the people of the village is? We are all in the mud, and the idea is to pull each other a bit out of it, while we are alive (and perhaps to keep us alive when we are not there anymore).

And that happens with words. Which is a very magical thing. You read something written in a certain way, or you hear the words of somebody said at a certain moment, and your life changes. Like magic, you know.

Foucault has a lecture at the end of his life where he treats this subject. I didn't finish the book, printed only half of it in Graz and never got to print the second part. But that's not the point. At the beginning of his lecture he makes the difference between this two kinds of knowledge.

I find this distinction very useful. We don't do woodworking for the sake of knowing. It's much more a path of transformation of the self (and care of it) than an accumulation of rules, procedures and methods. We become sharper as our hands learn to feel the stone and the steel. Our eyes learn to see, too see in a new way, and we start living in a new way. Well, at least the crazy one like us. We buy a piece of forest in the middle of an island, we bang metal against metal in order to remove more metal from metal that eventually, if everything goes well, and it will, will help us cut wood more slow than any machine can, but in silence. We burn ourselves, cut ourselves, and modify ourselves such that we can have access to this world that unveils each time the plane passes over the wood. And the sharper you get, the richer the world that's unveiled is.

We are not here for the object, we are not fetishist of the wood. We relate to it, and each according to his ability receive what is there to be had.

Beautiful, aint it? Who would have thought that the funny french knew so much about woodworking.

This is relevant. Not only to us, spiritual woodworkers, but for civilization as such. We have chosen as society, consciously or unconsciously, a path that negates the spiritual capacity of matter, of man, for a bunch of formulas, algorithms and free markets. This path leads to an abyss, and even worse, it's boring.

If we want to talk about what we do, and I think we all want to, we need to talk with the truth and be ready to put our being at play. It may be awkward. Alcohol was a useful lubricant for tears in the days we could meet in the bar for our weekly talk. But here we are mostly sober and far apart, so other methods need to be devised.

Let's speak the truth, let's care for each other.