quinta-feira, setembro 12, 2013

"The Craftsman", ou O Artesão

Esta é uma obra prima sobre a filosofia da educação. Sennett vai além do conhecimento atual sobre a criatividade, a arte, o jogo, o valor da educação e do conhecimento tácito. Este livro é um manifesto, cheio de conhecimento, conhecimento pragmático aqui teorizado pela primeira vez.

"A mão é a janela para a nossa mente." Immanuel Kant

1. Análise Geral 

O mantra que guia Richard Sennett em “The Craftsman” é simples, e resume-se à constatação de que "fazer, é pensar". Sennett passa a maior parte do livro a demonstrar exatamente isto, como é que fazendo, nos transformamos, evoluímos. Um dos exemplos mais arriscados, mas mais interessantes, é dado com Wittgenstein, que segundo Sennett mudaria a sua abordagem filosófica do mundo, depois de se ter envolvido na arquitetura da casa da sua irmã. Mas o livro está carregado destes exemplos, que se esforçam por iluminar como a "mão" tem poder sobre a "mente". Como a mão, não é apenas uma ferramenta ao serviço da superioridade do intelecto, mas antes trabalham num conjunto, criando uma dialética que permite à pessoa evoluir e transformar-se. Sennett apresenta-nos aqui uma espécie de neo-iluminismo no qual a mente não é mais o centro, e cita Kant “The hand is the window on to the mind”.

O livro em si, não é fácil de seguir, começa de forma muito apetitosa, revelando factos e atividades sobre os modos de transmissão de conhecimento desde a Idade Média. Depois o miolo do livro está carregado de discussões que se enredam, sem um propósito claramente definido, pelo menos para o leitor. Sennett atira em várias direcções desde a política à psicologia, passando pela história de arte. É no final, após as várias digressões, que Sennett entra de novo no espírito, e discute em profundidade, a Mão, a Preensão, a Percepção e as Competências.

Sennett segue as pisadas de Morris e Ruskin, na defesa dos valores do artesanato, nas competências e saberes do artesão, enaltecendo os seus impactos sobre o ser humano, a comunidade e a sociedade. Mas diferentemente, não dirige a sua raiva para com a máquina, a revolução industrial do séc. XIX, mas antes para a sociedade como um todo, que não tem sabido, ideologicamente, respeitar o trabalho manual. Criaram-se na sociedade métricas que hierarquizaram os sujeitos segundo coeficientes de intelectualidade. São as letras e a ciência que hoje mais se valorizam, enquanto o saber-fazer, fazer com as próprias mãos, é protelado para segundo plano, visto como algo de somenos, irrelevante.

Esta é uma discussão que trespassa todo o trabalho de Sennett, aluno de Hannah Arendt, responsável pelo tratado “A Condição Humana” (1958), no qual se eleva o estatuto do ser racional à condição de realização última do ser humano. Sennett faz aqui apologia do contrário, defendendo o “Animal Laborans” contra o que é defendido pela sua professora, acusando-a de ter contribuído para a criação de um discurso que subjugou a cultura do fazer, e a atirou para as franjas.
“Every good craftsman conducts a dialogue between concrete practices and thinking; this dialogue evolves into sustaining habits, and these habits establish a rhythm between problem solving and problem finding. The relation between hand and head appears in domains seemingly as different as bricklaying, cooking, designing a playground, or playing the cello…” (p. 9) For good craftsmen, routines are not static; they evolve, the craftsmen improve…” (p.266) This study has sought to rescue Animal laborans from the contempt with which Hannah Arendt treated him. The working human animal can be enriched by the skills and dignified by the spirit of craftsmanship.” (p.286)
Como diz Sennett é muito mais fácil conseguir donativos para Universidades de topo, do que para escolas vocacionais. A vocação é vista como uma antítese do iluminismo, do caminho "sagrado" da formação do ser. Porque, supostamente pré-existe, não precisa de ser construída. Um erro, um erro que só muito recentemente começou a ser corrigido. Um erro que se veio sobrepor ao conhecimento adquirido no passado através das Guildas (ver texto: Em Defesa das Guildas). Daí que as escolas vocacionais sejam absolutamente vitais, mas não só.
“[Weber] called the sustaining narrative a “vocation”. Weber’s German word for a vocation, Beruf, contains two resonances: the gradual accumulation of knowledge and skills and the ever-stronger conviction that one was meant to do this one particular thing in one’s life.”
Mas não são apenas as escolas do secundário. A Universidade ao ter-se alargado em termos de matérias, não pode continuar a pretender chegar a todos os assuntos da mesma forma. Sennett exemplifica com o curso de Medicina. Depois de 5 anos de estudos teóricos, nenhum médico, o é ainda, sem pelo menos 2 anos de prática sob orientação de um "mestre". O mesmo acontece na Advogacia e na Arquitectura. Não por acaso, que nestes domínios do saber não baste deter uma Licenciatura, mas seja necessário pertencer a uma Ordem, que não é mais do que uma Guilda.

O que eu me questiono, é porque é que isto não acontece com mais nenhum curso superior!!! Nas Artes, na Comunicação, no Design, na Informática... Serão estes cursos superiores, ou serão menos relevantes para a sociedade, ao ponto de não ser importante que quem ali se forme apresente verdadeiras competências? Porque é disso que se trata nas restantes licenciaturas. Algumas teorias vêm defendendo que a Universidade não deve preparar a pessoa para o fazer, mas antes para o pensar. Concordo com a ideia de que o essencial da base de um curso universitário deve ser o de preparar um sujeito para a autonomia, para "aprender a aprender". Mas não concordo que seja suficiente. Ainda que o conhecimento que o mercado hoje necessita, seja diferente daquele que vai precisar amanhã, o sujeito que atravessou 15 anos de estudo tem de saber fazer, não pode no final de tantos anos apenas saber aprender, porque corre o risco de cair num limbo de indefinição de si próprio. O saber-fazer, como Sennett nos diz aqui, trabalha exatamente esta componente, a construção do Eu, porque mais do que as competências do pensar, as competências do fazer formam-nos.

Claro que aqui joga-se um problema de fundo sobre o que deve ser uma Universidade. Mas no século XXI e após tantas modificações ocorridas no cenário da Universidade, mais do que nunca, esta tem de ser o centro de formação dos cidadãos, e não apenas de académicos.

Debato-me com este problema todos os anos nas cadeiras que lecciono, que compreendem uma fusão entre teoria e prática acentuada, por isso mesmo, as minhas cadeiras são denominadas de “Ateliers”. O problema é que o contacto em atelier com o docente, é demasiado reduzido. Não posso dizer que um semestre seja pouco tempo, mas é-o, quando falamos de 3 ou 4 horas semanais ao longo de 15 semanas. Estamos a falar de 45 horas, ou seja de uma semana intensiva de prática, nada mais. Além disso, numa relação de 1 para 20 (e já me devo regozijar) torna impossível qualquer aprendizagem por exemplo e imitação.

Sennet exemplifica como a arte de saber fazer melhora o sujeito, o torna autónomo,
  • através da negociação entre autoridade e autonomia, enquanto no processo de aprendizagem (no workshop do mestre)
  • através da construção de simbiose com a acção e objecto, trabalhando com as forças do objecto, usando a menor força e a melhor acção, antecipando o que fazer (exemplos detalhados no livro: construção de túneis por baixo do rio Thames; chefs de cozinha no corte; o vidreiro que antecipa o estado seguinte do vidro quente)
  • através do brincar, porque “in play, is the origin of the dialogue the craftsman conducts with materials (..) a school for learning to increase complexity.” (p.272)
Porque na verdade, apesar de termos sido capazes de proceder ao registo de muito do conhecimento tácito, continua a faltar-nos muito daquilo que está implícito nesse conhecimento. Começámos por registar o conhecimento sob linguagem escrita, e vimos quão difícil era fazê-lo. Sennett dedica um capítulo inteiro a este problema, “Expressive Instructions” (pp179-193), que é para mim um dos pontos mais altos do livro, capaz de exemplificar os problemas reais do conhecimento tácito, e da sua dificuldade de transmissão e apreensão. Como diz Sennett, é preciso "mostrar, não contar".
“Language struggles with depicting physical action, and nowhere is this struggle more evident than in language that tells us what to do. In the workshop or laboratory, the spoken word seems more effective than written instructions. Whenever a procedure becomes difficult, you can immediately ask someone else about it, discussing back and forth, whereas when reading a printed page you can discuss with yourself what you read but you cannot get another’s feedback. Yet simply privileging the speaking voice, face-to-face, is an incomplete solution. You both have to be in the same spot; learning becomes local. Display translates into a craft command frequently given young writers: ‘‘Show, don’t tell!’’ In developing a novel this means avoiding such declarations as ‘‘She was depressed,’’ writing instead something like ‘‘She moved slowly to the coffee pot, the cup heavy in her hand.’’ Now we are shown what depression is. The physical display conveys more than the label. Show, don’t tell occurs in workshops when the master demonstrates proper procedure through action; his or her display becomes the guide.” (p.179)
Neste capítulo um dos pontos mais altos na exemplificação dos problemas reais do conhecimento tácito, e da sua dificuldade de transmissão e apreensão, surge com as 4 receitas escritas por 4 chef's diferentes. Cada um dos chef's tenta explicar como se preparar o famoso prato francês “Poulet à la d’Albufera”, uma receita que implica desossar a galinha e depois levá-la ao forno. Sennett classifica cada uma das descrições da seguinte forma

1 – “Denotação Morta”, Chef Richard Olney (p.182)
Excerto descrição: “Sever the attachment of each shoulder blade at the wing joint and, holding it firmly between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, pull it out of the flesh with the other hand...”

Análise de Sennett da receita: “Olney tells rather than shows. If the reader already knows how to bone, this description might be a useful review; for the neophyte it is no guide (..) The language itself harbors a particular cause for this looming disaster. Each verb in Olney’s instruction issues a command: sever, pull, loosen. These verbs name acts rather than explain the process of acting; this is why they tell rather than show. For instance, when Olney counsels, "Force the flesh loose from the breastbone, working along the crest", he cannot convey the dangers of tearing the chicken’s flesh just below the bone crest. In their sheer number and density the verbs cast an illusory spell; in reality, the verbs are at once specific and in- operative. The problem they represent is dead denotation.”

2 – “Ilustração por Simpatia”, Chef Julia Child (p.184)
A receita segundo Sennett: “Stretching over four printed pages, her recipe divides into six detailed steps (..) In each stage she expresses forebodings. For instance, she imagines the neophyte picking up the knife and counsels: "Always angle the cutting edge of knife against bone and not against flesh".”

Análise de Sennett da receita: “Child’s recipe reads quite differently than Olney’s precise direction because her story is structured around empathy for the cook; she focuses on the human protagonist rather than on the bird. The resulting language is indeed full of analogies, but these analogies are loose rather than exact, and for a reason. Cutting a chicken’s sinew is technically like cutting a piece of string, but it doesn’t feel quite the same. This is an instructional moment for her reader; ‘‘like’’ but not ‘‘exactly like’’ focuses the brain and the hand on the act of sinew cutting in it- self. There’s also an emotional point to loose analogies; the suggestion that a new gesture or act is roughly like something you have done before aims specifically to inspire confidence.”

3 - "Cena Narrativa", Chef Elizabeth David (p.187)
A receita segundo Sennett: “David describes the making of Poulet à la Berrichonne as though it were a tale from Ovid, the transforming journey from a tough old hen flopped on the butcher’s cutting board to the tender poached dish nestling inside its cushion of parsleyed rice (..) The long recipe works as a once-read procedure: it is an orienting short story one would read before cooking; one might then go to work without referring again to the book. It’s a safe bet that even now not one in a thousand of David’s readers had ever visited the province of Berry, where her recipe originates. But like her mentor the travel writer Norman Douglas, David believed you need to imagine first and fore- most what it’s like to be somewhere else in order to do the sorts of things people do there.”

Análise de Sennett da receita: “This is the scene narrative, in which "where" sets the scene for "how". If you have the estimable privilege of a Middle Eastern uncle (..), you will immediately understand the instructional point of the scene narrative. Words of advice are introduced with the phrase, "Let me tell you a story". The uncle wants to grab your attention, get you outside of yourself, rivet you in an arresting scene. (..)
Effective scene narratives are not perfect encapsulations of a point (..) the more he [your uncle] wants to drive home an indelible message, the less direct will be the connection between the scene he sets and the moral; you’ll work that out for yourself once the frame is set. This is the provocative function of any parable. (..)
In her defense it could be said that David’s purpose is to jolt the reader into thinking gastronomically. Gastronomy is a narrative, with a beginning (raw ingredients), a middle (their combination and cooking), and an end (eating).”

4 - "Instrução através de Metáforas", Chef Madame Benshaw (p. 189)
Receita completa: “Your dead child. Prepare him for new life. Fill him with the earth. Be careful! He should not overeat. Put on his golden coat. You bathe him. Warm him but be careful! A child dies from too much sun. Put on his jewels. This is my recipe.”

Análise de Sennett da receita: “This is a recipe conceived entirely in metaphors. ‘‘Your dead child’’ stands for a chicken straight from the butcher, but making this simple substitution takes away the gravity Madame Benshaw evidently wishes to convey about slaughtered animals; in classic Persian cuisine, animals have an inner being, an anima, no less than human beings. Certainly the command ‘‘Prepare him for new life’’ is a charged image...
Each of her metaphors is a tool to contemplate consciously and intensely the processes involved in stuffing, browning, or setting the oven. The meta- phors do not prompt us to retrace and reverse, step by step, the manner in which a repeated action has already become tacit knowledge. Instead, they add symbolic value; boning, cooking, and stuffing create together a new metaphor of reincarnation. They do so for a point: they clarify the essential objective the cook should strive for at each stage of the work.”

A grande questão que se nos colocam estas receitas, estas verbalizações do acto de fazer, é que a sua aprendizagem não é fácil de transmitir. Não basta apenas a informação, como já tinha aqui discutido antes, mas é necessária uma prática repetida, para que a informação se transforme finalmente em conhecimento, e depois em competência.

O livro de Sennett é de extrema relevância, porque o ser humano não é feito apenas de intelecto. Sem competência técnica, como é que se externaliza esse intelecto? Preocupa-me imenso todo este plano do ensino e aprendizagem, mais ainda quando ouço interesses defender uma universidade baseada no ensino à distância e para milhares de alunos em simultâneo. Porque se queremos que as pessoas internalizem processos, assumam a identidade da profissão, transformem essa profissão e a desenvolvam, não basta passar informação, é preciso mais do que isso. É preciso o contacto humano, a interacção humana, a imitação, a repetição, e o tempo. A criatividade não brota do nada, a formatação é necessária, porque é através dela que surge a educação, um nível de auto-controlo dos instintos. E é desse auto-controlo que surge o conhecimento de si, e do saber. É desse auto-controlo que surge a capacidade para ver além, e ser capaz de criativamente subverter processos. Mas tudo isto demora tempo, e o tempo é algo que a nossa sociedade cada vez menos preza. A propósito de tudo isto falei no texto sobre as Guildas da idade média.


2. Excertos
Tendo em conta a riqueza enorme do livro, deixo mais alguns excertos que sintetizam o que de mais importante, para mim, é dito por Sennett neste livro.

2.1 Competências e o Artesão 

2.1.1 Repetição e o logro da Inspiração (p.37..)
"Skill is a trained practice (..) The lure of inspiration lies in part in the conviction that raw talent can take the place of training. We should be suspicious of claims for innate, untrained talent. ‘‘I could write a good novel if only I had the time’’ or ‘‘if only I could pull myself together’’ is usually a narcissist’s fantasy. Going over an action again and again, by contrast, enables self-criticism. Modern education fears repetitive learning as mind-numbing. Afraid of boring children, avid to present ever-different stimulation, the enlightened teacher may avoid routine—but thus deprives children of the experience of studying their own ingrained practice and modulating it from within.Skill development depends on how repetition is organized. This is why in music, as in sports, the length of a practice session must be carefully judged: the number of times one repeats a piece can be no more than the individual’s attention span at a given stage. As skill expands, the capacity to sustain repetition increases. In music this is the so-called Isaac Stern rule, the great violinist declaring that the better your technique, the longer you can rehearse without becoming bored. There are ‘‘Eureka!’’ moments that turn the lock in a practice that has jammed, but they are embedded in routine."

2.1.2 Qualidade das competências (p.50)
"Embedding stands for a process essential to all skills, the conversion of information and practices into tacit knowledge. If a person had to think about each and every movement of waking up, she or he would take an hour to get out of bed. When we speak of doing something "instinctively", we are often referring to behavior we have so routinized that we don’t have to think about it. In learning a skill, we develop a complicated repertoire of such procedures. In the higher stages of skill, there is a constant interplay between tacit knowledge and self-conscious awareness, the tacit knowledge serving as an anchor, the explicit aware- ness serving as critique and corrective. Craft quality emerges from this higher stage, in judgments made on tacit habits and suppositions."

2.1.3 Artesãos e emoção (p.20)
"All craftsmanship is founded on skill developed to a high degree. By one commonly used measure, about ten thousand hours of experience are required to produce a master carpenter or musician. Various studies show that as skill progresses, it becomes more problem-attuned, like the lab technician worrying about procedure, whereas people with primitive levels of skill struggle more exclusively on getting things to work. At its higher reaches, technique is no longer a mechanical activity; people can feel fully and think deeply what they are doing once they do it well. It is at the level of mastery, I will show, that ethical problems of craft appear
The emotional rewards craftsmanship holds out for attaining skill are twofold: people are anchored in tangible reality, and they can take pride in their work. But society has stood in the way of these rewards in the past and continues to do so today. At different moments in Western history practical activity has been demeaned, divorced from supposedly higher pursuits. Technical skill has been removed from imagination, tangible reality doubted by religion, pride in one’s work treated as a luxury. If the craftsman is special because he or she is an engaged human being, still the craftsman’s aspirations and trials hold up a mirror to these larger issues past and present."

2.2 O Artesão transforma-se no Artista (p.65)
“Probably the most common question people ask about craft is how it differs from art. In terms of numbers this is a narrow question; professional artists form a mere speck of the population, whereas craftsmanship extends to all sorts of labors. In terms of practice, there is no art without craft; the idea for a painting is not a painting. The line between craft and art may seem to separate technique and expression, but as the poet James Merrill once told me, ‘‘If this line does exist, the poet himself shouldn’t draw it; he should focus only on making the poem happen.’’
The contrast still informs our thinking: art seems to draw attention to work that is unique or at least distinctive, whereas craft names a more anonymous, collective, and continued practice.
The two are distinguished, first, by agency: art has one guiding or dominant agent, craft has a collective agent. They are, next, distinguished by time: the sudden versus the slow. Last, they are indeed distinguished by autonomy, but surprisingly so: the lone, original artist may have had less autonomy, be more dependent on uncomprehending or willful power, and so be more vulnerable, than were the body of craftsmen.”
 2.3 A Mão (p.150)
“The Intelligent Hand” - “Frederick Wood Jones (1942) wrote, ‘It is not the hand that is perfect, but the whole nervous mechanism by which movements of the hand are evoked, coordinated, and controlled’’ which has enabled Homo sapiens to develop.
One of the myths that surround technique is that people who develop it to a high level must have unusual bodies to begin with. As concerns the hand, this is not quite true. For instance, the ability to move one’s fingers very rapidly is lodged in all human bodies, in the pyramidal tract in the brain. All hands can be stretched out through training so that the thumb forms a right angle to the first finger.
The fingers can engage in proactive, probing touch without conscious in- tent, as when the fingers search for some particular spot on an object that stimulates the brain to start thinking; this is called ‘‘localized’’ touch.”
2.3.1 Preensão (p.157)
“The technical name for movements in which the body anticipates and acts in advance of sense data is prehension. Prehension gives a particular cast to mental understanding as well as physical action: you don’t wait to think until all information is in hand, you anticipate the meaning.
Thomas Hobbes sent the young Cavendishes into a darkened room into which he’d placed all sorts of unfamiliar objects. After they’d groped about, he asked them to leave the room and describe to him what they ‘‘saw’’ with their hands. He noted that the children used sharper, more precise language than the words they used when they could see in a lit space. He explained this in part as a matter of them ‘‘grasping for sense’’ in the dark, a stimulus that served them to speak well later, in the light, when the immediate sensations had ‘‘decayed.’’
This is therefore also the moment when error becomes clear to the musician. As a performer, at my fingertips I experience error—error that I will seek to correct. I have a standard for what should be, but my truthfulness resides in the simple recognition that I make mistakes. Sometimes in discussions of science this recognition is reduced to the cliché of ‘‘learning from one’s mistakes.’’ Musical technique shows that the matter is not so simple. I have to be willing to commit error, to play wrong notes, in order eventually to get them right. 
In making music, the backward relationship between fingertip and palm has a curious consequence: it provides a solid foundation for developing physical security. Practicing that attends to momentary error at the fingertips actually increases confidence: once the musician can do something correctly more than once, he or she is no longer terrorized by that error. In turn, by making something happen more than once, we have an object to ponder; variations in that conjuring act permit exploration of sameness and difference; practicing becomes a narrative rather than mere digital repetition; hard-won movements be- come ever more deeply ingrained in the body; the player inches forward to greater skill.”

2.3.2 Mão e Olho (p.172)
“The Rhythm of Concentration (..) In learning to make a Barolo goblet, O’Connor passed through stages that resemble those we’ve explored among musicians and cooks. She had to ‘‘untape’’ habits she’d learnt in blowing simpler pieces in order to explore why she was failing, discovering, for instance, that the easy way that had become her habit meant that she scooped too little molten glass at the tip. She had to develop a better awareness of her body in relation to the viscous liquid, as though there were continuity between flesh and glass.
Barolo goblet
Now she was better positioned to make use of the triad of the ‘‘intelligent hand’’—coordination of hand, eye, and brain (..) But she still had to learn how to lengthen her concentration. (..) This stretch-out occurred in two phases. First, she lost awareness of her body making contact with the hot glass and became all-absorbed in the physical material as the end in itself: ‘‘My awareness of the blowpipe’s weight in my palm receded and in its stead advanced the sensation of the ledge’s edge at the blowpipe’s mid-point followed by the weight of the gathering glass on the blowpipe’s tip, and finally the gather towards a goblet.’’
The philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes what she experienced as ‘‘being as a thing”. The philosopher Michael Polanyi calls it ‘‘focal awareness’’ and recurs to the act of hammering a nail: ‘‘When we bring down the hammer we do not feel that its handle has struck our palm but that its head has struck the nail. . . . I have a subsidiary awareness of the feeling in the palm of my hand which is merged into my focal awareness of my driving in the nail.’’
If I may put this yet another way, we are now absorbed in something, no longer self-aware, even of our bodily self. We have be- come the thing on which we are working.
We might think, as did Adam Smith describing industrial labor, of routine as mindless, that a person doing something over and over goes missing mentally; we might equate routine and boredom. For people who develop sophisticated hand skills, it’s nothing like this. Doing something over and over is stimulating when organized as looking ahead. The substance of the routine may change, metamorphose, improve, but the emotional payoff is one’s experience of doing it again. There’s nothing strange about this experience. We all know it; it is rhythm. Built into the contractions of the human heart, the skilled craftsman has extended rhythm to the hand and the eye.
Rhythm has two components: stress on a beat and tempo, the speed of an action. In music, changing the tempo of a piece is a means of looking forward and anticipating. The markings ritardando and accelerando oblige the musician to prepare a change; these large shifts in tempo keep him or her alert. The same is true of rhythm in miniature.”

2.5. O Workshop Filosófico (p. 286)
Pragmatismo – O artesanato da experiência
"Craftsmanship finds a philosophical home within pragmatism (..) Philosophically, pragmatism has argued that to work well people need freedom from means-ends relationships. Underlying this philosophical conviction is a concept that, I think, unifies all of pragmatism. This is experience, a fuzzier word in English than in German, which divides it in two, Erlebnis and Erfahrung. The first names an event or relationship that makes an emotional inner impress, the second an event, action, or relationship that turns one outward and requires skill rather than sensitivity (..) craftwork, as presented in this book, emphasizes the realm of Erfahrung. Craftwork focuses on objects in themselves and on im- personal practices; craftwork depends on curiosity, it tempers obsession; craftwork turns the craftsman outward. Within the philosophical workshop of pragmatism, I want to argue for this stress more largely: the value of experience understood as a craft.
What does the "craft of experience" imply? We would focus on form and procedure—that is, on techniques of experience (..) the craft of making physical things provides insight into the techniques of experience that can shape our dealings with others (..) I recognize that the reader may balk at thinking of experience in terms of technique. But who we are arises directly from what our bodies can do. Social consequences are built into the structure and the functioning of the human body, as in the workings of the human hand. I argue no more and no less than that the capacities our bodies have to shape physical things are the same capacities we draw on in social relations."

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