Silence is my vice.

A seminar by Ian Percival, a man who’s life embodies so much of what is wonderful about tools, making, and what might be termed ‘industrial technology’; a thoroughly inspiring talk. Then a lunch with the other post-graduate students and Ian (a usual Wednesday afternoon thing), during which the talk focused mostly around my book plans. It was nice to hear people’s thoughts – all supportive and encouraging – and apart from a little bit of me feeling funny about being the centre of attention all was useful and raises my excitement level even further. I just want to go and go and go and go; luckily for me, lots of that going will involve not going anywhere nor even doing anything! Like this morning just before the seminar, I sat and had my own little Meeting for Worship, and how nice it was! These pools of silence1 are so essential to me, and my work; this is what Wordsworth meant when he could “see into the life of things.”2

My vice, being a holdfast rather than depravity: The very act of tightening this gives me such a sense of pleasure, of love of the world even. So sure of itself, so solid and strong, with no chance of over-stressing; I feel good using this vice. Its texture, the hemp turksheads on the blackwood, the sweat and grime that are slowly turning both these black, these things make me happy. All of my senses are stimulated by the simple act of leaning forward and heaving on the handle! Every single time – no exceptions – that I come to use my vice so much is evoked, so many feelings of time, and work: My thoughts turn to my grandfather whom I never knew, and who’s vice it was that inspired me to make this one. Decades of his vice giving good service, slowly wearing and shaping itself to how it was used; centuries of this general form of vice being the centre of thousands of woodworker’s working lives. Does – can – the Record #53 evoke these kind of feelings? The handle alone of my vice comforts me and gives me confidance in life.

[As I was looking around for an image of a standard Record vice, apart from the endless advertisments for eBay I discovered the following interesting facts: Record Tools is a division of American Tools which is itself a subsidiary of Irwin Industrial Tools; both the recordtool.com and the americantool.com domains redirect to irwin.com. And nowhere on the Irwin site can I find any information about Record tools. Hmph.]


1.

“Incarnate Word,
in whom all nature lives,
Cast flame upon the earth:
raise up contemplatives
Among us, men who
walk within the fire
of ceaseless prayer
impetuous desire.
Set pools of silence
In this thirsty land”

James McAuley 1917 – 1976
© Norma McAuley

2. “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798”, William Wordsworth (1770-1850):

“While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.”

What I Did/Read/Thought Today

Hurrying off to uni after remembering the chai & cake stall, I forgot my lunch and the honey (not sweet mate), but managed to prove to myself the wisdom in having a slow bike. [Oh how I wish I could get my digital camera to work with these uni computers!] I got the chai on, retired to the Greens office to help with some ICT stuff and to do a bit of reading (more Bachelard), and headed to Civic Square for a Save The Ridge rally. I would post shots of that too, if only…

Reading. I pay close attention to my body when reading — how I’m sitting, where the pressure is, the weight of the book in my hands, my hands on my arms, where the forces are going. The intellectual exercise of entertaining the author[‘s ideas] is balanced (of course only partially — one still needs to swing from the trees shouting) by the awareness of my physical body.

The first graduate seminar that I’ve been to for weeks. Lenticulars are those pictures that move! Ooh err! (So I didn’t take many notes — eh!) The second talk set me thinking about media-independent replication of art; we’ve been doing it with text for ever, and that’s one of the aspects that draws me to the web-based data-gathering/page layout/hand-binding process: anyone anywhere could be doing similar things in totally different ways, but the ideas captured within the text would remain totally intact (much of why we marvel at digital storage). M. spoke about seating and stools and inspired me about sit/standing postures; I should like that for computeranating…

Enough for tonight!!!

A Created Environment

Ben Lee delivered an intriguing, in depth (an hour and a half!) talk on his work as Artistic Director for a computer game company. What particularly fascinated me about this topic was the attention to detail that is given to the fantastic environments that Ben and his ilk create. Amazing! The fantasy/sci-fi world is full of this sort of thing: people imagining environments and virtually ‘building’ them. I am particularly struck with the concept of inventing an environment to inhabit, (of course this isn’t limited to computer interfaces), for isn’t that what humans try to do in so many ways? What if we look around and try to notice that we are living in an amazing 3D environment in which we can interact with every ‘asset’ (that’s what they call discrete objects in a computer game)? Shouldn’t we then set to marvelling at everything around us, thinking “Wow, I can actually touch things!”

So that’s what I’m going to do now…