About the name of the blog

Do we need forks? is a name that reflects my philosophy about technology - the first question we should ask is "Do I NEED this?" Will it make my life and meaningful occupations easier, or better in some way?
As a student (first time around), I remember reading a scene from a play set in the 1600s, where French nobles were wondering what to do with a fork. The social context meant that forks were unnecessary. In that time, people would
bring a knife, use a spoon for liquids, and hands for everything else. In a different social context where people are concerned about hygiene, a fork seems relevant. Or you could just wash your hands really well before each meal.
This philosophy about technology relates well to frameworks of occupational therapy. We look at the person - do they really need this technology? - the occupation - how meaningful is this occupation and do they need technology to make it easier to participate in? - and the environment, which includes social factors - is this technology going to fit with their environment?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Week 39 - What need does baking meet for me?

This blog relates to week 39 and the search for what need I’m meeting with my activity.  These last two weeks, I haven’t been able to bake.  I fell ill with bronchitis and have been bedridden with little energy.  This was quite timely, as it gave me an opportunity to literally answer the question Mary posed:  “What if you couldn’t bake?  What need would you have to fill?”  Although I mainly bake to give gifts, this week I’ve been missing my scrumptious oat cookies that are wheat-free (to suit my intolerance to wheat).  I usually make a batch in the weekend to munch throughout the week.

So, one of the needs for baking in my life is to consume, to eat.  Another need it fills is the need to give gifts.  Both of these needs are part of that we call “labour”, the never-ending cycle of life.  Thomas F. Green writes of the endless cycle of “gathering and consuming” (1968, p. 17), of the passage of life governed by seasons and death, then rebirth.  Green defines labour as being about necessity and nourishment.  The oat cookies form part of my weekly sustenance, while my baking for gifts is also part of my sustenance, as a person who is connected with other beings in this world, celebrating with them their ups and downs, birthdays, births, deaths, marriages.  These celebrations also occur on an endless cycle, as I was reminded when my friend’s brother died unexpectedly a few days ago.  My friend lives in France, so I sent a card rather than bake, but had she lived around the corner, baking plus a card would have felt like the right thing to do.  Baking fills my need to participate in life with those I love, both on a practical nutritious level, and a more spiritual level.

There is also something satisfying about producing something to eat, as Hannah Arendt puts it:
The blessing of labour is that effort and gratification follow each other as closely as producing and consuming the means of subsistence, so that happiness is a concomitant of the process in itself, just as pleasure is a concomitant of the functioning of a healthy body (1958, p. 108).

Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Green, T. F. (1968). Work, leisure, and the American schools. New York: Random House

1 comment:

  1. Hi Hannah! I really enjoyed how you wrote about labour here. It really is a never ending cycle of life. Baking is such a perfect gift for the occasions that occur in that cycle of life. Personally I have enjoyed baking since I was a kid and have such fond memories of baking with mum and my siblings. It's still something I do, either baking for myself or as a gift. It's really great to see that baking is still such a strong and important activity in other peoples lives too.