Wednesday, May 03, 2017

35 years shouting into the void. I'm so tired of predicting the future, or describing the present before everyone else begins to figure it out.

Princeton University Press: Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy
In today’s new economy—in which “good” jobs are typically knowledge or technology based—many well-educated and culturally savvy young men are instead choosing to pursue traditionally low-status manual labor occupations as careers. Masters of Craft looks at the renaissance of four such trades: bartending, distilling, barbering, and butchering.
so bored
It’s called post-humanism, or pre-humanism redux....the boy at Starbucks with a coffee bean tattooed on his forearm, a member of the "Barista tribe." 
It’s the public proclamation of loyalty to a subculture; documenting the need to belong; atomization and the rise of pathologically over-determined imagined communities etc.
 etc. etc. It’s the sociality of baroque individualism.

We now have food geeks as well as science geeks, all with the moral philosophy of Asperger’s patients: so fixated on their mania for [tube amps/Pouilly-Fuissé/Ducati two-stroke engines] that you’d be a fool not to hire them for your [high-end audio store/restaurant/Soho motorcycle salon]. Why be a well rounded adult when you can be an eternal [pre]adolescent and expert, and a happy cog and servant?
 Lawyers are craftsmen
I'm probably going to have to spend some time with The Craftsman, if only at the bookstore, but I get the sense that Sennett doesn't quite get the point.

Craft isn't a value. It's simply how we communicate with each other. You can either accept that, as practicing lawyers, screenwriters for HBO, and the girl you didn't go home with last night do, or like Brian Leiter, John Rawls, Brad DeLong, and the vast majority of the Anglo-American academic intellectual apparat, you can pretend. From the blurb:
Sennett expands previous notions of crafts and craftsmen and apprises us of the surprising extent to which we can learn about ourselves through the labor of making physical things.
Making physical things is not the point. Understanding that we are physical beings is the point.
If the intellectual model of fine art remains intellectual design (and the logic of original intent) the popular model is now theatrical design. There’s a relation: the children of conceptualists have returned to an art-making process the only way they could, as furniture makers. There’s a similar culture of “crafting” in academia, of grad school knitting circles, economist coffee connoisseurs, philosopher illustrators and wood carvers. None of this amounts to much, or won’t until the preoccupations outpace the ideas. The best example, going back to the beginnings of conceptual art, is Adrian Piper, who's had careers both as an artist and an academic philosopher. But her best, most tortured, work documents the sleep of reason, undermining all of her ideological pretensions. Her work is the poetry of confused rage. The new culture of crafting by comparison is another form of naïve decadence. For crafters, knitting circles are the closest they’ll come to hammering out scenarios for The Wire.
Recently, again, experts have become critical of expertise, philosophers critical of philosophy, but they miss the point. They’re unwilling to see themselves as part of a process that preceded their “discovery’ of the flaws in past assumptions. 
Philosophers who recognize themselves as orators become no more than sad ex-priests. The “postmodern” defense of bad writing and of theory as art doesn’t work as a defense of poetry or of lawyers, whose role hasn’t changed that much over the last 2000 years. Social scientists refuse to see themselves as tradespeople even as historians have never quibbled over whether their field can be called an art. The members of the Frankfurt School were exemplars of bureaucratic reason, the most famous of them so horrified of the implications that he called desperately and pathetically for unreason as the only possible response. Adorno was either unwilling or incapable of the empiricism, directed inwardly and outwardly, that might have allowed him see just how much both he and his “beloved institute” were products of the same forces that made the things he claimed to oppose. The rise of a self-conscious geek culture, the proud celebration of the preadolescent imagination in adulthood, came in earnest ten years after the publication of One Dimensional Man and the release of Dr. Strangelove, the title character an amalgam of Werner von Braun and the ur-geek von Neumann. “If you say why not bomb tomorrow, I say, why not today? If you say today at 5 o’clock, I say why not one o’clock?
The discovery of experience
The difference between Law and lawyers, philosophers and comedians
Change is slow but inevitable. Academics are the last to know.

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