I'm reading Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford. When his book first came out, I was lucky enough to catch a radio interview in which he talked about the creative problem-solving required in repairing motorcycles, and the satisfaction he experienced in achieving a concrete result at the end of his efforts. That seems a far cry from the frustration and cynicism bred in the offices of our public service, where many of my former law school colleagues toil (those that are not on mental health leave!).
On a related topic, CBC Radio ran a story a little while ago on the decline of cursive writing. One of the interviewees made the point that when we write, different parts of our brain are engaged than when we type, and we are in fact able to think more creatively. Probably that explains why Isabel likes to work on her novel in longhand, rather than at the computer, even though she is a computer science major. She and her brother, James, were fortunate enough to attend a private school in the Washington, DC area that emphasized the acquisition of good handwriting skills.
Our affinity for working with our hands should come as no surprise, given our evolution. Our hands and their connection to our brains are at the heart of our "humanness". Our ability to think and fashion tools, and then to make those tools beautiful has set us apart from our fellow creatures and given us mastery (for good or ill) over our environment.
I contemplate the value of manual work everyday in the built environment of the neighbourhood where I live. For instance, I am surrounded by a proliferation of beautiful domes, the legacy of Kingston's brief time as the capital of the united Canadas.
|Back view of City Hall, with melting ice rink in the market square.|
|Front view of St. George's Cathedral.|
|Back view of St. George's.|
|Wrought iron fence post in shape of a bishop's mitre.|
|Dome atop Frontenac County Courthouse.|