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This text presents a philosophically-minded enquiry into the idea of craftsmanship. It is divided into three parts: addressing the craftsman at work; the development of skill; and whether motivation counts for more than talent.
to work hard and well. One is the moral imperative to do work for the sake of the community. The other recipe invokes competition: it supposes that competing against others stimulates the desire to perform well, and in place of communal cohesion, it promises individual rewards. Both recipes have proved troubled. Neither has—in naked form—served the craftsman’s aspiration for quality. The problems with the moral imperative appeared to me personally and sharply on a visit my wife and I made to the
female golden ﬁgures represent the Sea and the Earth (salt belonging to both realms), while on the ebony base bas-reliefs of ﬁgures represent Night, Day, Twilight, and Dawn plus four Winds (Night and Day pay direct homage to Michelangelo’s sculpting of these same ﬁgures on the Medici tombs). This glorious object was meant to provoke amazement and it did. Before inquiring into what might make this a work of art rather than a piece of craft, we should place Cellini among his fellows. Throughout the
us to hold an object securely in one hand while we work on it with the other hand. Once an animal like ourselves can grip well in these three ways, cultural evolution takes over. Marzke dates Homo faber’s ﬁrst appearance on earth to the moment when, as it were, someone could grip things securely in order to work them over: ‘‘Most of the unique features of the modern human hand, including the thumb, can be related to . . . the stresses that would have been incurred with the use of these grips in
exactly right, but then the ear tells him that the next note he plays in that position sounds sour. There’s a physical reason for this trouble: in all stringed instruments, when the pressed string becomes shorter in length, the width between the ﬁngers must also diminish; feedback from the ear sends the signal that lateral adjustment is needed at the knuckle ridge (a famous exercise in Jean-Pierre Duport’s Études explores the interplay between diminishing lateral width and maintaining the rounded
orienting short story one would read before cooking; one might then go to work 187 188 craft without referring again to the book. It’s a safe bet that even now not one in a thousand of David’s readers had ever visited the province of Berry, where her recipe originates. But like her mentor the travel writer Norman Douglas, David believed you need to imagine ﬁrst and foremost what it’s like to be somewhere else in order to do the sorts of things people do there. This particular recipe embodies