Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shop Class as Soulcraft

This book is really good; I'm rereading it now for a third time. Crawford, who holds a PhD. in philosophy, disliked managerial and administrative work, and took up fixing motorcycles as an antidote to frustration and boredom, and then as a permanent career. Crawford writes plainly and directly about the value of working with one's hands, and how manual labor is, at its heart, a kind of philosophical practice, a means of engagement with the world.

Crawford's work took on special relevance for me last week as Main Street's toilet breathed its last. Confronted with a $125 estimate to repair it, I opted for a visit to Home Depot, followed by several hours of monkeying around on the bathroom floor with brass washers, hoses, and a big pink rubber gasket that looked like something that had recently escaped from a tide pool. No flood, and Main Street's bathroom looks better than it has in years.