Wednesday, June 15, 2016

a map for the territory

When I came to chile last year I didn't know what I was going to do with my life. I had applied for the postdoc a few days before and had to wait still 6 more months to know anything for certain.

I visited one of my best friends who lives in Valdivia, one of the cities I was tempted to move to but I found out it's far too polluted. Too many humans already, and they all want to be warm but don't want to wait for their wood to get dry. Anyway.

He's a Reichian psychologist, and gives lectures on Reich here in Santiago twice a month. I asked him back then how do you teach people, and his answer was quite straightforward: you just go and do it. "Go and do it?" I said. He nodded.

Then and there I made the ad for the carpentry classes I was going to give in June to Keiran and Jose. And the other that came. And then more.

Today, I don't have Gaspar to ask him how do I make a school. But I bet he would say you just go and do it. So that's what I'm doing.

Now, what's a school? A way to organise a person's time according to certain principles, ideas and expectations, in order to effect a transformation in the person such that they become another. So why people go to school? to be enslaved to other people's will and move their body according to some else's ideas.

In a very lacanian situation, the students submits themselves to the will of the master since he knows what the student doesn't. However, the truth that Socrates already showed is that the master doesn't have what the slave wants, and nevertheless they get it. They will even pay for it, and be in debt for the rest of their lives to pay for this slavement.

That's, of course, not my idea of a school.

Let's go back a bit on time and take a look at my own random walk through the gardens of woodworking. Or not, if you are long enough here you already know me and if not you can use the index on the side. But let's say that I've been mapping the territory. The sloppy lands of handrailing, the mountains of saw sharpening, the valleys of violin tops and the nothingness of what sharp is. What for? my mother would ask if she would be alive. Where are the cabinets, the drawers, the tables? Where is the money? my brother would add.

Well, I would answer them, what's the point of making a few tables, a bed, and three cutting boards when the whole world is going to hell real fast? What I want is to live in a beautiful world, and for that I need people. I need hundred, if not thousands, of carpenters working on their neat workshops and having fun. Earning a fair salary. Eating good food and drinking good wine. So I better be off thinking how to teach people and doing it fast, I'm not gonna be forever here.

And today I saw it. To make a school you just make a program. You choose some principles. You dream of a future where the students of today will be necessary. Then you keep track of peoples' advance and make them spend time at it. You establish traditions that will help constructing a certain world. You are hopefully smart enough to not perpetuate exploitation, racism and stupidity. Meaning, if you go to the university of Chicago is quite difficult you leave without being a neoliberal wanker, or if you go to Standford not to be a rapist. Fascism is in its fabric, in its being. Like colonialism is in what we understand as university nowadays. So you cook for each other, you care for each other, you help each other (and help others too), till you get used to it and it becomes natural. All this while learning to cut tenons, shape handrails and make hoppers.


And some days passed by.

I keep on thinking about the program, and see examples online and most of them are project based classes. But I don't really like this. For example, Opa always says that you need 3 years to learn violin making, and he teaches his students to make violins by making violins. This is very slow as you are generally bad at making violins at the beginning, mostly because you are bad at planing, cutting, chiseling and mostly sharpening. You can learn to make a neck with rasps and chisels, and they are not trivial to use either, but with only a knife is quite slower. But the latter teaches you more about the grain of the wood than the former, and thus is better. This way learning about knives and wood teaches you the basic to undertake the construction of a violin.

By isolating the techniques that show you principles instead of learning by doing projects I think you get more bang for your money.

But by making projects you give a complete new sense to what the student is making, a different kind of joy. The joy of poiesis, of giving being to something that didn't have it before.


And more days passed.

I see a white room with large windows, in a falling-into-pieces-old building. We have just moved in and there are only a few benches, so the first task of the new students is to make some more. Japanese planes decor one of the walls but seem overwhelmed by the emptiness of the place. There is an open kitchen and couches, and water steaming ready for tea and hide-glue. Maybe someone is playing a new guitar, the last french polish job we did at the workshop. Tap tap, brass hits metal and then the sweet sound of shavings flying. You are there.

Human beings make a strange fauna and flora. From a distance they appear negligible; close up they are apt to appear ugly and malicious. More than anything they need to be surrounded with sufficient space -- space even more than time.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

More socrates

Well, my art of midwifery is in most respects like theirs but differs, in that I attend men and not women, and I look after their souls when they are in labor, and not after their bodies and the triumph of my art is in thoroughly examining whether the thought which the mind of the young man brings forth is a false idol or a noble and true birth.

Well, mine differs from his in that I look after the way they use their body and the triumph of my art is in seeing a new truth taking shape under my eyes. A truth made out of wood, time and spirit.

Matias' new "pisito"

Holds with ease a cup of tea and a glass of wine. Rauli and wax finish. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

snobbism turning technique

Sharpened the knife the boy broke back in puerto varas and the thing works nicely:

I had the idea the old kids didn't have enough money to buy rasps and shit, so they needed to make do.

There is a moment, as you work your way through the fiber, that you mind starts to be those fibers, and you know in your fingers which way to cut

and it's fun. Your forearm gets a bit tired though.