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Dewey on Creativity and Materials ou a Libertação pela Lã

October 16, 2015

John Dewey 1859-1952

Por estes dias resta-me muito pouco tempo para as lãs. Mas nem por isso paro de pensar nelas. Enquanto estudo Pragmatismo Americano, vou lendo John Dewey e acabo por ver, nas páginas dedicadas à industrialização americana, passagens muito interessantes. Esta podia ser quase uma resposta ao conhecido lamento “hoje vivemos numa sociedade tão materialista...“. Não, não vivemos, diz Dewey. Vivemos numa sociedade que dá muito pouco valor aos materiais. A sociedade industrial de classes oprime ao cultivar o desperdício, a indiferença aos materiais que nos rodeiam. Mais fundamentalmente, separa o acto criativo do objecto concreto e útil, tornando-o insignificante. Assim os ‘criativos’ criam, os ‘não-criativos‘ obedecem. É por estas e por outras que “a libertação pela lã“ já me pareceu um slogan mais despropositado.
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“Un grupo de bordadoras” Toledo, Espanha

These days I have very little time left for wool. That doesn’t stop from thinking about it constantly. While reading up on American Pragmatism I came across some really interesting passages on industrialization by John Dewey. This excerpt could be a reply to that common lament “this materialist society we live in…”. No, actually we don’t, says Dewey. We live in a society that values materials very little. Our industrialized class society oppresses by cultivating wastefulness and indifference towards materials. More fundamentally, it separates creative acts from concrete and useful objects, rendering them without significance. That way ‘creative people’ get to create, and ‘non-criatives’ get to obey.  Maybe the idea of “liberation through wool” is not that silly, after all.

Critics of the existing economic regime have divided instincts into the creative and the acquisitive, and have condemned the present order because it embodies the latter at the expense of the former. (…) [But] there is no antagonism between creative expression and the production of results which endure and which give a sense of accomplishment. (…) There is nothing in industrial production which of necessity excludes creative activity. The fact that it terminates in tangible utilities no more lowers its status than the uses of a bridge exclude creative art from a share in its design and construction. What requires explanation is why process is so definitely subservient to product in so much of modern industry: – that is, why later use rather than present achieving is the emphatic thing.(…)

Highly mechanized activity tends as Emerson said to turn men into spiders and needles. But if men understand what they are about, if they see the whole process of which their special work is a necessary part, and if they have concern, care, for the whole, then the mechanizing effect is counteracted.(…)

An excessive premium on security springs from the precarious conditions of the workman; desire for a good time, so far as it needs any explanation, from demand for relief from drudgery, due to the absence of culturing factors in the work done. Instead of acquisition being a primary end, the net effect of the process is rather to destroy sober care for materials and products; to induce careless wastefulness, so far as that can be indulged in without lessening the weekly wage.

in Human Nature of Conduct, 1922

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