The trouble with talking about Craft is that everyone thinks they already know what it is. Let’s take a deep breath and set all those assumptions aside.
Easier said than done. To begin, here’s some of what Craft is not:
Anachronistic, and therefore not a viable way to proceed.
A niche activity, something working in a cultural ghetto – along with Art – where a few make stuff to entice rich people to buy stuff.
A quaint word for Technology.
The list could go on and on. The dangers of attending to what something is not lead to diminishing returns as doing so keeps our attention focused on what we resist instead of allowing us to find clear air.
Let’s just say that Craft is not practiced in developed societies, or anywhere that has bought into globalism, or any of the stages of Modernism. Craft cannot exist unless there is a living culture – not a culture of death – where people take the questions of life seriously and do not give themselves away for trinkets and beads. Funny, we tend to think it was indigenous people who were tricked in this way. How clever…. Only, if we look at the question more deeply, they were being enticed to join into a system of belief where everyone in it was willing to trade their agency for trinkets and beads. The pseudo-sophisticated only differing from the rube by being more fully indoctrinated into a system that makes false-equivalences and distorts value.
Craft is one of the three pillars of human activity: The Theosphere, Art, and Craft. The first, the Theosphere is the realm of faith. It is where we wrestle with our susceptibility to fall into belief systems instead of maintaining our attention on the sharp edge of being; something that can only exist upon a foundation of faith. Faith, not in some belief over another, but faith in existence and the fullness and oneness of everything. Art is where we grapple with questions of meaning. Without faith we have nothing upon which to hang meaning. Meaning without the crucible of a practice of creativity will fossilize into belief. And Craft is where we connect faith and meaning with the contingencies of everyday life. To live we must interact with our surroundings. We must act, we must make things, find food, construct shelter, and transport ourselves and our things across distances. When we do these things within an overarching discipline that guides and shapes our actions, doing so within a framework supported and culminating in our relationship with faith and meaning, we are working within the realm of Craft.
We hardly know what that might be like.
The more deeply we look into it the farther we discover our actions stray from such a conception of Craft. What comes to the fore is how incoherent our actions are. How far removed from anything truly viable.
Paradoxically this is reason for hope, a shoal hope as I like to call it. If we were doing all of this in a way that cohered AND, were still hastening along the current path of annihilating destruction, we would be truly damned. There would be no hope. If what we find ourselves in today was the result of humans acting coherently then there would be no room or possibility for anything else. Fortunately it is quite clear that business-as-usual is not coherent.
But a terrible stumbling block arises when we limit our selves to piecemeal attacks on whatever fragment of the current regime irks us most while we fail to acknowledge and incorporate within us how deeply mired all of what we do and think is in this destructive system of habits and reactions. We lash out in ignorance and willful pique. Unwilling, and often unaware, that from our position so far into a system that has taken us so far from any direct engagement with life we need to make an effort beyond anything we are familiar with to even begin to connect with this triad that make up the practices and disciplines needed to sustain life. Cocooned within the easy privileges that have led us down this path of dislocation and disease we have only the faintest glimmers of what is involved in life. We shrink from any examples of what life is, whether found in the lives of outsiders or of other forms of life, creatures beyond our circles of belief, human or other. We see them partially romanticized and partially in horror. Examples we could not imagine following. It’s just too hard!
But… and here is where entering into any of the three realms at whatever level or capacity we can muster, and with an approach, an attitude, a commitment to questioning and maintaining an open stance in the face of uncertainty, we find rewards as soon as we begin. There are the vicious cycles we are so familiar with within our current modus operandi. Once we set on this other path we encounter virtuous cycles, dynamics in which each element catalyzes the next and takes us farther than we could imagine.
This is what we chase after in a chimerical fashion when we strive after innovation. That dead-end where our refusal to accept how deeply broken our current patterns are we insist that all that is needed is to pick and choose our favorite problems and then fix them. Resisting the futility of such action we double-down with fanatical belief and are shattered by the stresses and shocks of leaving our organism in the lurch as we chase after death and destruction, condemned to fight our shadows and destroy our selves.
Within this toxic haze we have no energy left for acknowledging coherence. We see anything that does not bolster our precarious sense of self-hood as a threat. Unable to see that this self-image is an illusion leading us into destruction.
There is clarity in seeing that we are failing, not destined to continue as we are now headed. This distinction is a first crack through which greater clarity and coherence can enter.
A next step is to look at how far or how closely our ways of thinking/acting relate to a possibility of living within the cycles these three realms of life make available to us.
This is such a Big Thing! Exciting and easily overwhelming.
It is also such a little thing, like finding that the meaning of life is 42. Is that it? We ask,
Can something this vital be held in one’s view so simply?
Buried in complications that would make Byzantium seem a breath of fresh air we expect everything to be opaque.
Complex… life is complex, but complexity is not the same as complication. Viable complexity is destroyed by the tyranny of a complicated frame of mind. Everything that partakes of Quality is complex, but it can also be seen clearly. It is never complicated. The holographic nature of everything shines forth as complexity and simplicity shimmer together as in a trembling leaf poised in a dazzling shaft of sunlight.
Life is a dance. What form do its steps take?
What comes to mind with ever more clarity is that its forms are held within these three major thrusts of activity and reflection.
What needs to be done is to begin to act, and interact, with these forms in mind.
We have nothing to lose we have not already abandoned.
We have everything to gain….