Friday, June 12, 2009

The Psychology of DIY

I'm in love with this book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, recently reviewed in the New York Times book review. And I think it helps explain the passion for DIY projects, for the love of ReadyMade magazine, for the Buy Handmade movement and on and on.

Basically, this Crawford guy is rehashing good old Marx here...capitalism breeds alienation by separating individuals from the totality. (As in, a global economy in which a Chinese worker sews together an Amish quilt with no direct connection with its final user, or understanding of its cultural meaning.)

An excerpt:
"Crawford argues that the ideologists of the knowledge economy have posited a false dichotomy between knowing and doing. The fact of the matter is that most forms of real knowledge, including self-knowledge, come from the effort to struggle with and master the brute reality of material objects — loosening a bolt without stripping its threads, or backing a semi rig into a loading dock. All these activities, if done well, require knowledge both about the world as it is and about yourself, and your own limitations. They can’t be learned simply by following rules, as a computer does; they require intuitive knowledge that comes from long experience and repeated encounters with difficulty and failure.

Economic ties, like those between a borrower and a lender, were once underpinned by face-to-face contact and moral community; today’s mortgage broker, by contrast, is a depersonalized cog in a financial machine that actively discourages prudence and judgment."

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