Craftspeople: those individuals in dialogue with the world around them.
I think art has to be re-humanized and honor brought back to skilled labor and crafts. In short, we need to start recognizing the artwork that exists in a well built house, a well performed weld.
Have you ever stopped to watch something being built; all the separate individuals moving together towards one, single end goal and knowing their part and place in that whole. There is a certain beauty to it which generally seems to go unrecognized because we are too busy looking at the environmental issues coming from industry. I am not saying that the environmental side is not an issue but, what are all of those artisans going to do if those jobs are completely gotten rid of? That is a question that does not seem to be asked often. These people have spent years honing their skills to be able to perform their tasks efficiently; something that only writers and musicians seem to gain recognition for.
Why is this important? Not just the political reasons of individuals’ livelihoods etc.
I have a friend who likes to point out that we are “human beings, not human doings.” Generally I think they are trying to point out how, in a corporate type organization humans are expected to constantly be productive and are judged on their “productivity.” (If I am wrong in that understanding, I am sure they will be in contact with me and I will make the proper edits.)
Generally I agree to the issue they are trying to point out but, at the same time, we are human doings. What is existence besides doing something opposed to nothingness? Anything that we acknowledge as existing seems to be fundamentally affecting the other stuff around it in some way, that affecting I am calling dialogue because, I think, usually that influence is multi-directional. As in, the influencing thing is also influenced by the other things around it. Humans grow in dialogue together, we tend to call it experience. As someone gains experience they change their opinions, attitudes, habits etc. which then will influence other people they come into contact with. For a more scientific type of example , plants grow from the ground and influence the pH of the soil around it but also their growth is influenced by the pH of that exact same soil. I call this sort of interaction dialogue.
That dialogue seems to be an important part of existence, of being, as in human being. So, a human in dialogue with the world they inhabit. Art is just a very specific sort of dialogue with the world just as, I think skilled craft and labor is too. A skilled craftsperson/laborer is in dialogue with their medium be it, wood, metal, glass etc. All of these individuals are learning how to open dialogue between themselves and the world around them using these different things and tools this is why skilled labor and crafts need to be re-honored and brought back to the fore and reconsidered as art also. Those individuals doing that type of work are doing the fundamental human being thing of being in dialogue with our world. Something a lot of our current service-oriented work does not do, which is why being “productive” becomes a problem.
First, a lot of current service industries, I do not think really engage in dialogue with the world. An individual in those industries is not really influencing things around them and then being influenced by those same things, instead they are applying rules and policies because that is what they are supposed to do, without considering context. That is not dialogue, that is doing things for the sake of doing them.
Whereas, service areas such as, teachers, have to take into affect context in order to more effectively engage in dialogue with students and help them learn. But, the only way we have to test this “effectiveness” is through standardized tests which do not have context, they do not have a dialogue with that student, they are simply a policy.
This type of “productivity,” applying policies without dialogue I think is an issue we are starting to notice as a community and starting to try to find ways around. I simply propose, that to continue this line, we begin to treat skilled laborers and crafts people as the artists they are and we all start trying to pick up a craft and re-open dialogue.