Saturday, December 26, 2009

Skill vs. Ineptitude

Skill and ineptitude are two sides of the same coin, really.

A great deal of what we commonly refer to as 'skill' is actually just focused patience. Conversely, a great deal of ineptitude results from needless, thoughtless hurry and impatience.

To work skilfully, one must bear in mind that inanimate tools, materials and machine components cannot be willed to behave as we'd like them to. A plane that's set for too thick a cut will not take a fine shaving because one wants it to. The plane must be adjusted. If the blade is dull as well as misadjusted, the plane must be dismantled, its blade ground and honed, reassembled and adjusted. There's no way around that. A motor's armature winding won't fend off damage from a clumsily wielded screwdriver. One's movements must be thoughtful, purposeful, economical and graceful.

I'm largely self-taught in the various areas I work in, and I've been striving lately to come to grips with my shortcomings, and cultivate a much needed maturity in my work. I find myself too often guilty of little bouts of ineptitude, and I never much like the outcome of those. I can distinguish three major sources of the problem.

a) My own nature: a tendency to want things done, but not always to be prepared to put out the tedious effort that may be called for. That's for me to work on, every minute that I'm in the workshop.

b) Workplace conditioning: the whole 'time is money' ethos of capitalism has its witless effect. Bleep capitalism. I'm through with heeding its bogus urgency.

c) Social conditioning; the cultural baggage we all carry that tells us that manual labour has no intellectual component to it; that it's only 'skilled' in the sense that through repetition, the tradesman acquires mastery of his trade, a process not unlike a dog's being trained to sit and heel. That's one of the biggest frauds of all time, initiated and perpetuated by the parasitic classes in an attempt to put an intellectual gloss on their jotting of ledgers and crafting of con jobs.

Skill is not so much an attribute as it is a state of mind. Skill is serenity -- an utter detachment from the world's noise, and an intimate connection with the task at hand.

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