Doubt, and Reading the Cure

A moment of doubt: I have come to the workshop this morning to work again on the scroll. I am bevelling the ends of one of the rods with my blockplane, using the bench-hook as a shooting board. I have just realised that i am wearing a groove in the bench with this arrangement, and the thought came to me that I should take the time to make a proper, acurate shooting board. The thing is, I don’t want to. I aught to want to, that’s the sort of thing woodworkers like doing, and there would have been a time when I would’ve jumped at the chance. Surely it’s a good thing to get a bit better set up, a bit more organised? But just now I would rather go and read in the library. I say rather because it’s not that I don’t want to make a shooting board, just that other things seem more engaging. I feel disconnected from my tools, and from woodworking. It used to be that I saw this as my calling almost, and I aimed to one day set up on my own and do it full time. Now, though… I now can’t imagine wanting to get up every morning and go to work at the bench; it would drive me down so. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling like this – after all, at the moment I don’t have to do it every day, and it’s not as though I don’t want to work with wood at all: I do. It’s just that the motivation has changed: I don’t want to live in a wholly machine-made environment, and so I must make much of my surrounds myself. But that’s all: I don’t want to make htings for other people and to their specifications. And I don’t need all that much for myself; I don’t need to make all that much. So where does my woodwork practice stand? As a hobby? Something that I take seriously but that is not my main game? So what is my main game? Understanding this world – will that do? I want to lead a simple life, tinkering with my bike, walking to the shops, growing food, being slow and quiet. I do not want to be obsessive about woodwork; ‘I live for wood’ is not me. Maybe ‘I live with wood’ fits better.

I don’t want to solve this problem in any practical, this-is-what-I-shall-do way. I want only to feel these things, these fragments of the poetry of our world. To sit and see the poetic reality of a situation, not the dull materialist reality that is supposedly what we are seeing. I should rather sit and look at a concrete wall than go Travelling, for how much easier will it be to see the poetry of the simple wall than the overwhelming power of a scene that is every moment changing? People seem not to agree with me on that one though, so prehaps I’ve got it wrong!

The environment in which I read is of great importance to me. What I read takes on a very different character depending on where I read it. When here in this busy [insert relevant political party name] office, surrounded by busy people doing work that is ‘important’, I get caught up in dealing with technology, and enjoying it – but forgetting the slow, the quiet and the reason one would bother appreciating a blank wall.

Now in Chifley: The place is for reading: Poetics t’was my choice.


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