Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book 12: Made By Hand

Obviously, I am a fan of making things by hand and fixing what I have, but I still put down this book thinking that Mark Frauenfelder is kind of douchey. He's pretty oblivious to what a privileged life he leads. I am so sick of fixing things (and cleaning the things and fixing the things that clean and cleaning the things that fix) that frankly at the end of the day, I don't want to make a cigarbox guitar. I want to knit or read a book. I harbor no illusion that a baby blanket is qualitatively superior because I made it. The value is based on emotions, the sentimental ties between myself and the recipient.

So Frauenfelder has kept chickens, and thus built a chicken coop from wood he saved when tearing down a shed. He has several instances in the book where he talks about all the bits and bobs he saves because he might use them some day and all I can think is "his poor wife." (I read recently, by the by, that Chickens are the New Knitting. At one time Knitting was the New Yoga. I guess time marches on.) His life is very full of stuff, it's just old junky stuff instead of new shiny stuff. I must just be too middle class to appreciate the nuances because I don't see how this makes him morally superior, which is definitely the undercurrent of the book. I do feel superior to people who can't fix a flat or drive stick or make bread or replace a button or catch a fish or grow tomatoes or patch drywall or glaze a window, but that is intellectual superiority. And intellect is an accident of genetics, not something meritoriously earned.

To my way of thinking, keeping stuff because you might need it in the nebulous someday is the underlying issue of our consumerist mentality. I don't lead a low stuff life by any stretch, but maybe from being in a smallish house with 3 other people, a dog and 2 cats I have begun to think of what it costs me to keep things. How much room does this take up? What do I pay per month for that space? How long do I work to earn money to have the stuff? Are those hours at work worth the cost of this stuff? How much upkeep will this thing take in terms the time I'm not at work? If something is not consumable, I don't want to make a commitment to it where the stuff owns me instead of me owning it. This is probably why I have more yarn and books than clothes.

I was hoping for more tutorials in the book but this is not that type of book. Mark may have learned from his mistakes along the way, but we don't really have the information to do so. I get it that he finds the learning and the improvement a vital part of his process. I am all in favor of those things, but I am also no fan of reinventing the wheel. My scrolling screen saver for a while was "If you don't have time to do it right, how will you ever find time to do it over?" So if you are looking for hard info on how to keep chickens, bees or a garden or how to build a cigar box guitar, this is not the book for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment