A handmade life
Je viens de finir A Hand made life – in search of simplicity de Wiliam Coperthwaite.
Un livre remarquable.
En voici quelques extraits.
if it is true that folk wisdom is our basic wealth, the chief insurance of a culture’s worth, then we are nearly bankrupt. Traditional knowledge is disappearing at an accelerating rate, as the creations of local craftspeople are replaced by factory made products, who are not designed with a concern for the improvement of human life but merely for profit. We need to be collecting as many examples of the old knowledge and skill, before they are forgotten and lost forever.
p.22 what is beautiful is easier to live with and care for. If we had fewer things and more meaningful ones, our homes and towns would be less cluttered, less ugly, and more peaceful. Our surroundings have a direct relationship to how tired we get and how happy we feel.
p.24 there are many unnecessary things in our daily lives that take up the largest part of our visual space.
p.25 We must learn to see beauty in our neighbors living well.
p.25 We need to build a society in which everyone wins. Losers are not good for business. the cost of having so many losers is tremendous in term of happiness, in $ of healthcare, famine relief, prisons (…) in wasted human potential.
p.25 true beauty must be as pleasing to the mind as to the eye.
p.27 When we look at total cost to society of buying a car, we may start searching for a vehicle made through a more beautiful form of production.
p.28 Life should be a search for harmony -not a battle, not a challenge- neither domination nor contending with nature but seeking harmony (…) We need to surround ourselves with things made with care and affection.
p.34 Work, to some, suggests drudgery -prostitution in order to earn a living- something one must do. For others of us, this is a gross misuse of the term: we believe that work is the productive and creative activity that makes human life possible.
p.36 Work is no misunderstood. The prevalent attitude toward hard work is that it is a necessary evil and that, while perhaps its burdens ought to be shared -done out of duty- works is definitively not an experience to be enjoyed. Many people learn to accomplish obligatory tasks well, at least efficiently; they dutifully do their share of labor to meet personal or family needs. Yet they consider bread labor less important than art, thought, research, or « creative » activities.
I protest. Bread labor is a primary activity of life, equal to or above these other pursuits in importance. What if we have been on the wrong track ? What if work, including the meeting of mundane needs, were to be recognized as an essential tool in understanding ourselves and our world ? What if we were to see that creativity, to be valuable and not merely dilettante, must be rooted in work ? Without labor, our way of life would not exist.
p.37 We all agree that slavery is wrong.Isn’t it equally wrong to sell oneself ? Employers make it easy. pleasant working space, interesting companions, large salary, pension and insurance plans, short hours, long holidays, stock options, bonuses, (…) But this is not work that you feel good about doing -work that you do only for the pay and the benefits- it remains prostitution.
p.43 Those who feel « the need to get away » with vacations and retirement have not had the joy of finding the right job. Productive leisure is more satisfying than non productive leisure.
p.46 The story goes that Paden Powell got the idea from the boy scouts from seeing a crowd of people watching a soccer match. He suddenly realized that the crowd should be playing rather than watching.
As people, we live vicariously much of the time, we watch someone else’s drama, sex life, ball games etc. or listen to someone else’s music. Instead of vicarious ball games, how about a real gas of split wood -or plant garden- or catch a porcupine for supper ?
p.48 Good schooling and good teaching can be delightful, and can aid greatly in someone’s advancement, they are not fundamental to education: learning is.
p.50 out of fear of misusing children, we have deprived them of the opportunity of doing real work. the work of most adults is hidden rom the children. even worse, most of the adults they meet do not enjoy their work. As a result of this coercion, and the corresponding lack of opportunities for fully applied imaginations, is it any wonder that kids turn for their thrills to stimuli that are antigrowth and antisocial ? Kids need to see productive work being undertaken by those around them and to be given an opportunity to take part at an early age. Useful work as a learning tool has largely been ignored by our educational system. Not only do students learn in the doing of the work but also grow in emotional stability as they see the work of their hands being of use to others. For example, while the family is gathering and stacking firewood for winter, encourage children to make stake of their own. Then, at Christmas, use only wood from those stacks, letting the children see try directly that their work is keeping the family warm.
p.69 In modern parlance, WE TEACH WHAT WE ARE. The art of living is the most important of the arts. All others derive from this. Without the vision of a beautiful life, the other arts are incomplete. Which is more important ?? beautiful things ? or beautiful life ? We need vigilance if these two outlooks are not to compromise on another, for instance, wanting to live a more violent life while holding a violent concept of beauty.
p.71 We teach children brutality with the media, with « histories », with toys and with military training. We feed them a steady diet of violence in their most formative years and expect them to grow into gentle, sensitive, loving adults. It simply can not be done. the violence of wars and urban rioting is minor compared to the scale of the violence that goes on every day in the lives of small children. We destroy creativity, spontaneity and confidence, we stifle curiosity, sensitivity and a sense of wonder, we kill love.
p.71 we use « primitive » to refer to a culture that we consider to be un civilized and also use the term for someone who is violent or brutal. Yet some allegedly primitive cultures have very little violence – for example the Lapps, Eskimos- while many civilized cultures are often engaged in wars of annihilation – Rome, Germany, US. We cal ourselves civilized though we spend more on weaponry than any other society has ever done. This hypocrisy, a form of self deception, is dangerous. Hypocrisy keeps us from trull knowing ourselves, the first stage in growing to individual and cultured maturity.
p.74 If I fell so concerned about others forms of life, why am I not a vegetarian ? Somehow I have never been able to take the anthropocentric prosition of putting animal life on a higher plane than plant life by eating plants and refusing to eat animals. From there it is easy to set human up as the highest of the animals, which seems a dangerous step to take (…) it is painful to choose to destroy anything -plant, animal, living or non living- but life demands destruction. We plants and animals are all interdependent. We take away and give back. The least we can do is not to wastefully destroy, to use as little as need to be, and to cultivate a reverence for all things, then to ask that our remains be gratefully returned to the cycle.
p.75 We should use whatever we use with reverence, with concern for its nature, beauty and spirit.
p.76 We show ignorance of our kinship with nature by our burial practices. Are so afraid of becoming one with the earth that we need to fill dead bodies with poisons and seal them away in caskets to slow their return to the soil ? To deny our nature in this way demonstrates a fundamental insecurity and lack of appreciation for life and its cycles. How much more beautiful it would be to ease the body’s transition to compost, in the process helping the earth’s green carpet to bloom.
p.80 The finest gifts depend on thoughtfulness, sensitivity, knowledge, and caring. Not on the material wealth of the giver (). A more generous way of defining wealth requires rethinking many aspects of our lives: our dress, our homes, our way of living. Rather than rare paintings and China, why not fill our homes with the presence of joy, evidence of the search of wisdom, and signs of caring ?
p.82 fashion is a device to separate fools from their money, a snare to enrich merchants and producers. rather than being a follower of expensive fashion, why not be leader in simple fashion ? Be clothed in purpose, clarity and kindness, and dress in a way that makes the best use of the world’s supply of materials.
p.83 violence is rooted in insecurity and want, and simplicity in living addresses both of these ills. (…) the simpler something is to make, the more easily it can be replaced and the less wear dependent on special skills, materials, or markets. Simplicity is not just a matter of doing more with less, or spending less, or using less of the world’s resources, it is a matter of freedom.
p.84 The home you invest your time, energy and money in should be the one you prefer esthetically.
p.85 we are accustomed to thinking in game terms, of winning and losing, We need to develop a philosophy of life in which there are no losers, a world where everyone can win.
p.92 simple living is less violent and less exploitative. when we live in complexity, our needs are so great in terms of energy and material goods that we live at the expense of others. as we simplify our homes, our clothes, and our eating habits, not only is less work needed to supply us but also less effort to maintain our way of life as well.
We live in a world where the word « education » does not mean learning but schooling. « Civilization » does not mean cultivation and culture but rather nation states spending astronomical amounts of wealth on preparation for war.
« Food » does not mean nourishment but an endless array of substitutes, adulterants, preservatives and growth hormones. « Shoe » does not mean foot wear but foot ornament. And « Freedom » does not mean liberty but wage slavery, welfare, and prostitution of labor.