Issue 10 T.O.C. – Joshua A. Klein – “Ready Hands”

This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Ten. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come. 

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Joshua A. Klein –“Ready Hands: A Letter to My Sons”

The lessons we learn in life should not end with us – we ought to always seek to pass wisdom on to the next generation. In Issue Ten, author Joshua Klein aims to do just that, in penning a letter to his three sons. He begins, innocuously enough, in describing a simple firewood box he intends to build for the living room. But Klein realizes, and wants his boys to realize as well, that the act of making by hand is a deeply integrated practice. 

The process of building a box with simple nailed rabbet joinery might be allowed to slip by as an unexceptional undertaking, having been repeated millions of times over the centuries throughout many cultural traditions. But how can we convey the value and beauty that is to be found in this simple yet radical act in today’s consumer culture? How can we teach our children of the freedom that comes with possessing personal agency – the ability to use our own two hands to work towards specific ends?

From his early, inexperienced efforts at the forge seeking to make the necessary nails for this project, through the execution of the basic yet age-old woodworking tasks needed, Klein reflects on the nature of taking risks to pursue new skills and the sacredness of doing something for yourself, rather than becoming reliant on specialists. In sharing these and other lessons with his sons (and us), Klein provides a powerful reminder that our tools are not neutral – they can either change us to become more detached from the creative process by outsourcing difficult tasks to technology, or aid us in becoming more fully what we want to be.


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