Craftsmanship is more than skill. It is a disposition, a state of mind, and a stance toward the world. The crafted object is idea and spirit made manifest. Robinson Crusoe was the craftsman par excellence. No one has more vividly described the inner world of the craftsman than Daniel DeFoe in his classic tale of the shipwrecked man on his island. Crusoe cured his solitude. He cured it with manual effort and small acts of creation. The most radically isolated of men, he lived in peace.
Here is DeFoe on Crusoe’s work to make an umbrella:
“After this I spent a great deal of Time and Pains to make me an Umbrella. I was indeed in great want of one; I had seen them made in the Brasils, where they are very useful in the great Heats which are there. And I felt the Heats every jot as great here, and greater too, being nearer the Equinox; besides, as I was oblig’d to be much abroad, it was a most useful thing to me, as well for the Rain as for the Heats. I took a world of Pains at it and was a great while before I could make anything likely to hold; nay, after I thought I had hit the Way, I spoil’d two or three before I made one to my Mind; but at last I made one that answered indifferently well: The main difficulty I found was to make it to let down. Read More »