“The music is in effect telling us about a future existence in which love and cooperation have replaced strife and oppression. Once we have achieved a glimpse of that future state, our present mode of life becomes increasingly intolerable: who could be satisified with prison after having breathed the sweet air of true freedom?”
Frank Kofsky

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound

Japanese Toolmakers

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As I stand at the entrance to the space of Japanese Kumiko woodworking, I find myself also getting acquainted with the tools associated with the culture. And one of the fundamental functions in wood-working is cutting … which ultimately involves blades in many forms.

A unique feature of many japanese tools is laminated metal … a thin piece of hard-cutting metal is welded together with a thicker piece of softer iron which makes up the mass of the blade. You can see this in chisels, planes, knives and even hammers. This seems to be inherited from Samurai sword making … a peaceful manifestation of a transformed combat technology. The resulting blades are so sharp that (when used properly) Japanese planes (called Kanna)  leave such a smooth mirror finish that no sanding is required (and it seems that sandpaper is non-existent in traditional Japanese woodworking.

As I watched this documentary about Japanese blacksmiths I imagined a world where this kind of making was the norm and not the exception. A world where many small artisans replace massive industrial scale production. Watching these blacksmiths I felt that such a lifestyle seems to encompass and profoundly address human needs … work that provides a livelihood while creating quality, purposeful objects … and in a meditative setting (where meditation is inherent and not conceptual and disassociated) … an integrated life.

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