Strix the harbinger
guards the exit gate, quizzing all
Who will pass this night?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Conjuring for Cash

Ogg is flaking a stone projectile point by the firelight. The kibitzer, who's a gatherer, not even a hunter, leans over his shoulder and says, "You ought to put little notches on the big end." Ogg, who has been making spearpoints all his life, just reaches over and whacks the fool on the foot with his heavy ax. I have been whacked a lot in my life.

In my past life I spent most of my waking hours in front of a computer, imagining widgets and thingamabobs to solve "issues" ("Gentlemen, we have a number of issues with the ACME account."),then making solid computer models of my solutions. I didn't actually "make" anything. I carefully constructed computer representations of things that might be manufactured to solve real or imagined problems. By controlling material characteristics, colors, textures and light sources these models could appear very real - like photographs of something that only existed in my head. They weren't "real". It was not nearly as satisfying looking at digital nothings on a computer screen as holding, touching the actual parts when they were finally manufactured by the Oggs, the people who actually make things with their hands.

Some mornings as I walked up the long walk to the front door I thought about how bizarre my life really was, how I had become an expert at conjuring things in my mind and that people were willing to buy the idea, to reward me with a handful of tokens every Friday, which were just as fake - "solid models" representing some imagined value.

Whereas I gave this thought the 30 seconds it took to stride up the walk on sunny mornings that should have been spent outside, John Michael Greer has thought about it a lot. A lot.

(This one is for the guys in the Model Shop who suffered me for years...and were still able to smile when I came out there with another one of my cockamamie ideas.)

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