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Mirrors from my Website blog #3: So What's Wrong With Being a Luddite, Anyway?

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Blog entry by Texasgaloot posted 09-30-2008 07:57 PM 7002 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The Master Part 3 of Mirrors from my Website blog series Part 4: As the stomach turns (over) »

Warning: the following is written in my blog’s wierd, arcane style… read at your own risk.

Once again the literary blog of Chris Schwartz has stimulated my own (somewhat cranked) chain of consciousness toward the philosophical side of woodworking. “The Schwartz” recently offered a very positive review of Roy Underhill’s newest book (the link is here), which wasn’t fair because I can’t go out and buy it yet, and pre-ordering it only makes me feel like I’m 8 years old and it’s three weeks before Christmas. Dang. I’m pre-ordering it anyway, and I had a good Christmas when I was 8.

One of the commentators on the blog mentioned that some view St. Roy in particular, and from that I assume the Galooterati in general, as being Luddite. I pondered that for a little bit, checked Wikipedia to make sure the commentator was talking about the Luddite movement of England in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, and then concluded that such a thrown stone packed all the wallop of being called a “Neanderthal Woodworker” or a “Galoot.” Hit me again, please!

Now, to be a Luddite in the purest sense of the word, I would need to be militantly against the use of power tools. Personally, I’m not that way; I really don’t have the time to spend felling a maple tree (the hardest part is FINDING a maple tree in central Texas), hewing it, pit sawing it, stickering the flitches, ripping them with a hand saw, scrub planning them to near thickness, well, you get the idea. If I had to rely on those methods, it would be a very long time before anything would ever come out of my shop, with the possible exception of me in a pine box.

On the other hand, I fully concur with Chris that it is essential that we never, ever lose the techniques that correspond with the old tools that we celebrate. We venerate St. Roy because he takes such joy in passing along that knowledge (in his own inimitable style.) In an earlier blog, I expounded on how I feel that passing on the knowledge of those who have gone before us honors them and connects us to them. If that’s Luddite, bring it!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...



5 comments so far

View Shopsmithtom's profile

Shopsmithtom

780 posts in 2851 days


#1 posted 10-01-2008 01:35 AM

I think I understood what you said…therefore I am.

...which reminds me of a story. Rene’ Descartes goes into a bar and orders a martini. When he finishes, he says to the bartender, “that was great, I’ll have another” The bartender complies with his request, and when he (Descartes) finishes the drink, he says, “that was also great” and gets up to leave. The bartender says, “Hey, aren’t you going to pay for your drinks?” Descartes replies, “I think not”....and he vanishes.

My apologies to all the philosophy buffs. I just couldn’t resist. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Texasgaloot's profile

Texasgaloot

464 posts in 2357 days


#2 posted 10-01-2008 05:09 PM

Thanks Tom. I can tell you are a philosopher. You have a great photo of an Avanti.

I enjoyed the post!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View Shopsmithtom's profile

Shopsmithtom

780 posts in 2851 days


#3 posted 10-01-2008 09:30 PM

There aren’t a lot of people out there who would even recognize an Avanti, (or Descartes, for that matter)... and not a lot who seem to care about Luddites, I might add.
Have a great day and keep those planes and chisels sharp. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View romansfivefive's profile

romansfivefive

299 posts in 2429 days


#4 posted 10-03-2008 12:58 AM

i like gadgets, bells, whistles and options that one man could never possibly need. that is just me. when it comes to woodworking, i am too easily discouraged if things dont proceed quickly. but i am also the type of person who is fine with “pretty good”. I am very glad that there are many others who feel differently.

I can appreciate the desire to maintain a working knowledge base of craft and craftsmanship. I also agree that these skills deserve honour and should be safeguarded for the generations to come by those who feel called to do so. I think this is a noble cause. It is rooted in respect. Ludites, however, root their desire to avoid technology in fear and limit any appreciation of the new because of this bias or prejudice. It sometimes borders on paranoid.

so in my clearly biased opinion, if you avoid the tablesaw because the handsaw makes you reminis about a simpler time, share that with the world. if you avoid the tablesaw because you think it might be conspiring with the sander, share that with a therapist.

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

View Texasgaloot's profile

Texasgaloot

464 posts in 2357 days


#5 posted 10-03-2008 05:07 AM

Geez… I never thought about a conspiracy theory… You know, just because you’re paranoid does not mean they’re not out to get you…

Good word, thanks Romans.

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

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