Man the Maker

What is the antidote to transience? The fact that everything enters and everything goes? The futility that bubbles out of death and dying? What can anchor us and provide us with meaning in the symbolic order of identities, where one thing is equivalent to another? (E.g. money, status, abstractions. Not terrible in themselves, but often bringing with them side effects.)

One solution is Making, or, fabrication, from the latin homo faber. Not generic, mechanical reproduction, but akin to the craftsmen who cares about every detail of its making, or the poet who weighs every word and syllable. What such making produces is a little piece of “work” that simultaneously bears stamps of the maker’s individuality, and exists independent of the maker. Take the example of a piece of artwork. The work of art bears the personality and the style of the painter, but has value outside of the painter’s personality. Such making contributes to the fabrication of a human world, a sphere that invites us to dwell within, and exists before and after us. It mixes with folk tales and mythologies, scientific ideas and philosophical theory, forming a net that catches whatever falls and lacks ground.

The way that we, as homo faber, can make, is through exercising a specific mode of attention, love, to the in-making. What love is, as such attention, is the care for the beloved for its own sake, and the joy in witnessing its own joy. What such love allows is the channeling of what is worth saving in oneself into the object of making (one’s character, one’s understanding of other works, one’s experiences), and making it something worth saving that can dwell in the world.

The antidote to transience is making. Making requires sustained, loving attention to the thing made. An unfailing attention that leaves nothing left to oneself, and all to the made. Making requires, because of this, learning—the enriching of the self so one can, in return, enrich what is being made. This making, either in the making of some craftwork or the writing of a beautiful letter, the creation of a great company or the recording of some piece of music, in this making that mediates the self as learned and having something to express, and the work as opened by the self’s loving attention, lies an avenue towards meaning.

(I took the concept of making from Arendt’s The Human Condition)

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