Fetish as “sculpture”
Pirsig talks about assembling a rotisserie in [PIRSIG-ZAMM.~166]. He explains that instruction manuals present only one possible procedure in assembling a device. We tend to think that the “factory way” is what the manual presents and that it is the only plausible way to do it. This removes any creativity on our part, which is why “some assembly required” tends to be so tedious and boring.
A real craftsman is one who knows his art well enough to make numerous design decisions as he goes along rather than entirely to some preconceived plan. This is what makes him an artist. When he starts with a blank canvas, he probably has a very good idea in his mind where he wants to go, but not necessarily how to get there. He “wings it” all along the way. The plan is the vision of the finished project. How he creates it is a function of his artistry.
Pirsig views the assembly of his rotisserie as an act of “sculpture”. Yes, for functionality he must have a clear picture of how the unit goes together otherwise it simply won’t work. But the act of assembling it is an act of sculpture. A sculptor “makes decisions as he goes along. For that reason he’ll be absorbed and attentive to what he’s doing (Flow) even tho’ he doesn’t deliberately contrive this. His motions and the machine are in a kind of harmony. He isn’t following any set of written instructions because the nature of the material at hand deterimines his thoughts and motions, which simultaneously change the material at hand.” (Does this sound familiar? Could this be Flow?)
The problem, he says, is that many of the things we do in life are done as if according to an instruction manual. There is no sense of creativity in putting something together– no sense of “sculpture”. We have somehow divorced art from functionality.
Look around at the buildings downtown in a big city. The new ones are geometrical — they reflect an age obsessed with functionality and economy. They may contain token works of art but their inherent nature is basically functionality. Art does not fit or belong here.
Now look at some buildings that were built, say, before the 1930’s. How do they differ from the more recent ones? Do we see a building created as a sculpture or for functionality?
As we build our fetish practice, how can we include “sculpture” as an inherent part of it’s design?