Matt Marshall

3 Posts with Tag humanism (All tags)

26 May 2017, 09:07

Am I a Maker?

Recently, I was in the kitchen at work enjoying my calories and chatting with a friend/colleague whose PhD is in Making and portable Making. She's doing a really cool thing at the minute building a portable Making Space (this is grossly butchered, I'm sure it's much more nuanced and cool than just a "portable Maker Space" :-P). During the conversation she mentioned that people had donated bits of kit to the Space to add to its functionality, and I proffered to throw in one of my mini-blacksmith forges so that people could smith stuff. The conversation around that resulted in me being asked about my Making stuff, and then ultimately in being offered to co-produce a small booklet on my Making for her project.

The thing is, I haven't ever really considered myself a Maker before. I'm not particular interested in electronics, except where I might want to string up some LEDs somewhere. I like to contribute upstream to FLOSS projects, but I do this a lot less often than I'd like. I don't really get creative with 3D printing and laser cutting. I enjoy various crafts and associated crafts materials, but in my head being a 'Maker' has always been associated with a particular aesthetic. My colleague sent me her example booklet and the first page really intrigued me; she described her style of Making, and that gelled with something that one of my favourite Makers had recently said around styles as well.

For context, I had always known that my colleague was into knitting and after hearing her discuss it, I had always thought of it as part of her Making practice -- but I had never considered this in terms of style. This got me thinking; if my practice intersected with Making, what is my style and how would I describe it? (Humanist btw).

For all this revelation, I still get confused when I ask myself the question about whether I am a Maker (Marxist ideals aside). My understanding of the aesthetic of Making has grown to include the things I described to her that I did. From conversations with others, mainly around the lab, and mainly concerned with the Newcastle Maker Space -- I understand there to be a sense of exclusivity around some Maker Spaces. From these same conversations, I also understand that this is probably Cishet White-Male related… Another issue I have is that my skill in all of these practices is really malnourished and underdeveloped. I try to do too many things. I suppose that's maybe in the spirit of Making, but that label has always implied (to me at least) a certain degree of comprehension as well as the playfulness. That a Maker can often think of how to achieve a goal; whereas I still haven't really been able to flex those muscles to hack around a problemspace too often.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I think maybe my discomfort comes from the taking of my own practices of exploring my humanity through creating things and playing, and just describing it as Making. Not that I have an issue with Making as a practice, I think that this stems from how I think of my Making 'style' as humanist. What I do is what just comes naturally to humans until it's beaten out of them by society. I am a Human and I make stuff, small m. I think that, maybe, describing myself as a Maker would belie an arrogance around my practice that I just don't possess. This is different for others of course, but making stuff (not Making) is inherently human; and I don't like that the label of Maker would set me apart from the rest of my species other than a relatively small group… that Makes me sad.

making maker humanism species essence

22 Aug 2017, 09:00

Every morning

It still amazes me what happens when the sun rises. I know, it's cliché and it's incredibly soppy, but I don't care. I'm lucky in that how I like to configure one my core habits involves me getting to see a lot of sunrises, especially during the late-summer and mid-spring months.

During the majority of summer, the sun has already risen by the time I head outside to train. At this point in the year, I can already feel Sol beginning to wane ahead of the winter. I can see it winding down as the light that greets me as I open the door is now just beyond the horizon. This morning, it was extra humid -- my most hated weather of all time. The damp heat saps my strength and fills my lungs, so I took an extra minute or so during a rest break. I took a look around and appreciated that the night's deep colour had given away to cold blue-grey of early morning. I smiled to myself and got on with the rest of my training, finishing around 15 minutes later as I've routinely failed to push past my maintenance routine into progress. By this time, the air was pink, and I lay on the ground watching the birds flit around. As my body rested I bathed in the atmosphere and routine I've come to know so well -- at 0535 someone (I've never found out who, nor do I wish to) empties a lot of glass bottles into the bins in the alley. A few minutes after that the first of the neighbourhood cats comes by, across the wall. It ignores me.

When air turns gold, I move. I'm sore, but only for a few moments. At this point, when the sun has risen, the rest of my world has risen with it. I can faintly hear people talking as they walk in the streets towards wherever they're going. Cars are frequent sounds. The house across from us has its lights on now. I wave back at the young woman who waves at me from the window. I stretch, put away the ladder I use to access my pull-up bar, pick up my towel from the ground, and re-enter my flat.

I'm not sure what the purpose of this piece of writing is supposed to be. I'm not sure it needs one. It just fascinates me that, for all of our societal evolution, we're by-and-large still just silly apes that begin moving when the big ball in the sky appears. For all of the supposed life and energy in the night, it is still mostly dead.

I dunno, I just had a nice morning, and wanted to share it.

humanism sunrise morning poetic shithead

05 Sep 2017, 09:05

A slice of PIE

Maybe because I'm sentimental, and maybe because I'm a nerd, I've been exploring the ancient world of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) culture lately. For those not as nerdy as I am, PIE is a term used to describe the common ancestor for all peoples whose genetic lineage traces to prehistoric Eurasia. This includes peoples from Northern Europe, the British Isles and Ireland, mainland Central and Western Europes, Eastern Europe, India and what the West terms the 'Near-East'.

PIE studies usually centre around reconstruction of the language and, subsequently, the culture of the PIEs. Using comparative techniques known to people like linguists and mythologists, a fairly decent reconstruction can be made in a lot of areas (according to our current techniques and understandings of them, anway). PIE stuff generally satisfies me on several levels then -- history, language stuff, and most importantly the shared human heritage of a very large number of people in the Eurasian landmass and our relatives who immigrated to the Americas, Australia and Indonesia.

Part of my personal exploration of this has involved delving into the shared religion of these peoples. A lot of religions trace their roots to the PIE religion, and whilst the names have been reconstructed using fancy techniques I don't understand, it brings me joy to realise that members of our species once engaged in ritual practices around the worship of these people.

And this is why I want to discuss my Slow Cooker.

I came across the goddess *Haéusōs. She is characterised as the goddess of the dawn, and her descendants include the Greek Eos, the Germanic Ostara (Easter) and the Vedic Uṣás among hundreds of others. Interestingly, the PIEs are thought to have conceived of the hearth, a fire that forms the centre of the home's social world, as a small piece of the Sun (and therefore the dawn). *Haéusōs is therefore associated with the Hearth as one of the primary and most important deities; since the Hearth was such an important concept in the PIE social universe.

Recently, *Haéusōs is making her importance known to me in my home. Now, I'm not particularly religious in the theistic sense but I am a stickler for ritual and for anything that connects us to other humans (including dead ones). So I will continue to elaborate. I've been streamlining myself and sidelining some bad habits lately, and among my toolkit is my slow cooker.

Slow cookers are fucking brilliant. They aren't amazing with dried legumes, but still. You just load them with things, set them away, and turn up 6 hours later to find delicious food. If that's not pagan ritual magic I don't know what is. Anyway, since I've been using my slow cooker a LOT more, it's sort of become the centre of my world at home. Food is my big vice, and the better quality of food I can prepare for myself the better. I've been living off of slow cooked chilli this year, and have recently begun playing with a slow cooker daal. It's amazing. And I'm only going to start on more elaborate things. Anyway, my point is sort of that as my slow cooker becomes more and more important as a tool in my daily life, I feel that it's grown somewhat akin to the Hearth of PIE history. It's nice that, even with the advances in technology, I can maintain a practice that humanity has shared for time immemorial -- sitting down to a damn good warm meal at the end of the day, one which has been heating through for hours.

All hail *Haéusōs.

food humanism PIE hearth comfort