The Craftsman by Richard Sennett
While Sennett tries to get understanding from an examination of various crafts, his list-based approach fails to convey that hard-wrought knowledge to us neophytes. Peeling away much cruft, he seems to say: Spend 10,000 hours working on something, thinking really hard about how to make it better, but not so hard that you kill the joy of making. Oh yeah, and you might want to get a mentor of some kind.
With advice as good as that, you're better off puzzling your way through TheBookOfFiveRings while deriving inspiration from MikeTyson (watch the montage).
The laborer with a sense of craft becomes engaged in the work in and for itself; the satisfactions of working are their own reward; the details of daily labor are connected in the workers's mind to the end product; the worker can control his or her aown actions at work; skill develops within the wrok process; work is connected to the freedom to experiment; finally, family, community, and politics are measured by the standards of inner satisfaction, coherence, and experiment in craft labor.
Skill development depends on how repetition is organized. This is why in music, as in sports, the length of a practice sesion must be carefully judged: the number of times one repeats a piece can be no more than the individual's attention span at a given stage. As skill expands, the capacity to sustain repetition increases. In music, this is the so-called Isaac Stern rule, the great violinist declaring that the better your technique, the longer you can rehearse without becoming bored.
The first trouble appears in the attempts of institutions to motivate people to work well...
A second trouble lies in developing skill. Skill is a trained practice; modern technology is abused when it deprives its users precisely of that repetitive, concrete, hands-on training...
Third, there is teh trouble caused by conflicting measures of quality, one based on correctness, the other on practical experience.
In the workshop, inequalities of skill and experience become face-to-face issues.
Ancient cleaver technique derived from the same kind of choice a home carpenter faces today in deciding how to hammer a nail into wood...
The ancient Chinese cleaver chef opted for the second position (thumb wrapped around shank) but worked out a different way to use the combined farearm, hand, and cleaver in order to cut food finely. Instead of hammering a blow, he or she guided from the elbow joint the fused forearm, hand, and cleaver so that the knife edge fell into the food; the moment the blade made contact, the forearm muscles contracted to relieve further pressure...
If the cook, like a carpenter, holds the cleaver or hammer down after striking a blow, it works against the tool's rebound. Strain will occur all along the forearm. For physiological reasons that are still not well understood, the ability to withdraw force in the microsecond after it is applied also makes the gesture more precise; one's aim improves.
I've dwelt on this monumental event (1666 London) in part because disasters of a kindred sort appear today when cities like New Orleans or Gloucester are flooded; global warming may well bring further, sudden destruction. The issues Wren's age faced are still ours: whether to restore what existed in form before or to make a more dynamic, innovative repair.
In the years immediately after the Second World War, teh architect Aldo van Eyck began filling up Amsterdam's empty spaces with playgrounds -- in trash-filled backyards, at traffic circles, on forlorn corners and the edges of streets. Van Eyck cleaned out the trash and graded the ground; his team sometimes painted the walls of adjoining buildings; the architect himself designed playground equipment, sandpits, and wading pools. Unlike school playgrounds, these street pocket-parks invited adults in as well.