Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Process Is The Product

I come not to bury Jacques Jodoins, nor to praise him. He doesn't require anything from me, anyway. He is a watch with the hands and the stem on the inside, and the gears facing out. But he is interesting to me.

His workshop is perfect for the Intertunnel, isn't it? The Intertunnel is just a big Jumbotron for us to act outrageous on, on the off chance we can get the camera to linger on us during a time-out. Indecent exposure or marriage proposal, doesn't really matter what you do, you'll have your moment on YouTube eventually.

But Jacques did not produce that midden of moil for our amusement. He wasn't trying to get in Guinness or astound Ripley or even catch the woodworking world's eye in the form of that video. He was amusing himself, first, last, and always.

And what's wrong with that? Honesty is what you do when no one's looking. He's truly honest. He's not going to take all that stuff down now that he's been on the Jumbotron and start building the world's largest train set in its place to take another bite of the attention apple. He was what he was, is what he is, and will remain whatever that makes him. He'll die down there, and I imagine he'll die happy.

I know what everything in that basement is. Every last thing. I don't have 1/2 a percent of it, and if offered, I'd turn down the gift of most of it. And I make furniture every day, for a living.

Unlike most of the world, I am not allowed to have the Process be the Product. At the end of the day there has to be something tangibly different with the world or we don't eat. Sometimes we don't eat anyway. Most of the world we inhabit now is all Process and no Product. What is Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook, or a million other things you could name that consist solely of: This is how I go, when I go like this.

The federal government thinks the process is the entire product. The public school system can produce only public school teachers. The EPA is now supposed to protect the air from humans. The Department of Energy doesn't make any, and would prefer you didn't as well --or else. Cities like Detroit are trying to exist with no population now. Search your mind. You'll have to search hard to find exceptions, not examples.

I have a tendency to notice things that others overlook. It's not my fault I notice things; don't be hard on me. There is no furniture of any kind, not even a component of a piece of furniture --there isn't even any sawdust-- anywhere in Jacques workshop.

He is happy there. Let us praise him. He is our God.

(Thanks to old StumbleUpon friend Maxismax for sending that one along. StumbleUpon. Heh.The process is the product.)


julie said...

Holy moly, that is a lot of stuff. Looks to me like just maintaining the shop would be a full time job, nevermind actually making things in there.

Maybe I'm just odd, but I find I can get a lot more done - and more that's worth being done - if I have limits on the tools I use. My camera would earn guffaws from any self-respecting amateur photographer, and I find I make drawings and paintings best if I stick to two or three colors.

Obviously, basic and not-so-basic things are necessary, but there's a point where more bells and whistles won't transform a person's lack of skill into art.

Casey Klahn said...

Yes. Very weird.

Did you ever watch the Outer Limits? No, maybe the Twilight Zone is better.

In all respect, I have to imagine that he cleaned up the place before he filmed this. The products (or the "process outcomes") were stored in his massive pole built shed.

My main question is where does he stand when he uses the tools?

Casey Klahn said...

That was way more sarcastic than I meant it. I need to get to my own "shop" and process something into some thing.

Mal said...

My Dad's shop used to sparkle at the end of every long work day; much like M. Jodin's, only on a mortal scale. It was the last order of business.
I'd just like to know how Monsieur J. gets his timber & other wood materials down there.
(I'd like to think the ceiling rolls back.)

julie said...

Heh - Mal, that reminds me of a family story. My great-grandpa built a boat once, hours of work in the basement of his old and storied house. I'm sure it was beautiful. Too bad he couldn't get it up the stairs...

Anonymous said...

"This is how I go, when I go like this."

Suddenly I feel so very small. Deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts and blog in 5...4...3...2


BrettonPoint said...

Can't you just see Mrs Jodoins saying to Mr Jodoins years ago why don"t you find a hobby? Maybe a nice little workshop in the corner of the basement and you could make bird houses or dollhouses for the Grandkids. Flash forward to 2011 and notice the three phase 440 electric service panel. The forced draft induction fans running, Pneumatics , hydraulics, argon, Co2 bottles, Mig Tig and Argon welding capability and then listen carefully for the crys and sobs of Mrs Jodoins lamenting the monster she has created!

xoxoxoBruce said...

Seems to me:
1- He likes to collect tools.
2- His hobby is capability.
3- He must be skinny.

vanderleun said...

That's not a shop, that's a collection. And either he's one of the most anal men in the history of space and time or his output is very limited. Not a lot of wear and tear, sawdust and cussin' scattered about.

Quote from him on another page:

Regarding the size of his tool collection, Jacques has this to say:

"My brother says that some day two men in white coats will come and take me away. Someone said that "if they are men, after looking at the shop, they will forget what they came for and I should remain free". Some friends have accused me of being a tool collector. There is some truth to that, but considering that I spend 30 to 40 hours a week using the tools for pure and unstressed enjoyment, it is more than a static collection of items. Besides working commercially is very difficult and then you loose your hobby. I need the hobby more than the money."

He's obviously got money. I'm thinking John Edwards style ambulance chaser in a pre-retired life. Either that of male gigolo.

Mike said...

I think I saw some sawdust at about the 1:40 mark on a couple of rollers. How in the world does he get sheet goods anywhere near that panel saw?

When I had my kitchen remodeling studio (I haven't even told the whole sad story on my blog), guys like this created a lot of difficulty for my ability to secure work. It is surprising how many people have a relative that calls himself a woodworker, or furniture maker, or cabinetmaker.

Jewel said...

Gerard noted something I was thinking, too. I know such men, and one of them fashions PVC pipe into musical instruments worthy of being played. He used to be a lawyer and now he's a luthier.

Sam L. said...

Jewel, I saw a PBS show on Norman Rockwell, and there was an interview of the woman who modeled for that picture. She looked just like Elizabeth on "Keeping Up Appearances".

Sixty Grit said...

Such cleanliness, such organization, such power feeders, but no lathe, or maybe I blinked and missed it.

A good shop will have all the stuff he has there, and more. I skipped the shaper and overhead router and went with a CNC, which also does a good job at jointing boards.

JKB said...

In the light of this analysis Carlyle's rhapsody on tools becomes a prosaic fact, and his conclusion—that man without tools is nothing, with tools all—points the way to the discovery of the philosopher's stone in education. For if man without tools is nothing, to be unable to use tools is to be destitute of power; and if with tools he is all, to be able to use tools is to be all-powerful. And this power in the concrete, the power to do some useful thing for man—this is the last analysis of educational truth. Charles H. Ham, Mind and Hand: manual training, the chief factor in education (1900)

That quote is from a book available at the Internet Archive. Skip over the parts specific to the school and you will enjoy a fine, educated discussion of the value of the useful arts.

Another quote:
It is possible for the mind to indulge in false logic, to make the worse appear the better reason, without instant exposure. But for the hand to work falsely is to produce a misshapen' thing—tool or machine —which in its construction gives the lie to its maker. Thus the hand that is false to truth, in the very act publishes the verdict of its own guilt, exposes itself to contempt and derision, convicts itself of unskilfulness or of dishonesty.