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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Paper Cuts
Today was Yume's monthly Japanese culture club - and I admit I'd been dreading it a little, as it was to centre on an origami lesson. Now, aside from a brief but intense phase of making corn dollies back in my nonage, my experience with arts and crafts - including origami - is accurately represented by this cartoon. First I'm lulled into a false sense of security by being asked to fold a piece of paper in half, which seems easy, and then perhaps in half the other way, or even diagonally, at which point I begin to think "Hey, maybe I've got some talent for this!" Then, a twist and flick of the wrist later, my bright new hope is lodged point-first in the rafters like the Sheriff of Nottingham's sword after a bout with Errol Flynn.

There were certainly points at which my putative rose blossom seem destined to become a work of Modernist origami called simply "Scrumpled Paper III", but thanks to the helpful advice of our origami mistress it ended up quite respectable, I think:


Meanwhile, have you ever thought about what swords really sound like when being drawn?

And now you know.

That is indeed a quite respectable Kawasaki rose. My first one was nowhere near that shapely.


Thanks - I appreciate that especially coming from you.

thank u

Oh, nice rose!

My carving knives sometimes ring when I pull them out of the wooden knife block, so . . . yeah. But he's got it in the right mainly.

Interesting. Is there any metal in the block at all, for it to zing against?

The rose was a surprise, and had seemed well on the way to disaster five minutes earlier. "From this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety."

No metal; the sound is soft, but it is definitely a metallic zing.

That video is awesome. I thought the katana actually went 'clack.' Not nearly so... dashing and romantic as the fabled ZING!, is it?


That is a lovely sword-drawing demo. I adore it when people are wittily correct.


That is a beautiful origami rose. Very convincingly rose-like.

I am a huge sceptic regarding the idea of "inborn talent". All handicrafts rely on learning some skills and then practising until you can do them reliably and the finished product is consistent. It's so easy to be put off at a young age if people mock your first attempts. That means you don't try again and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because unless you practise, you will never master the skills.

I take a middle line. I am convinced that, no matter how hard I train, I will never run as fast as Usain Bolt. In other words, there is a biological limit on how good I can get at certain tasks, whether they involve strength, dexterity, memory, or whatever. However, all these things can be vastly improved by training, and not being Usain Bolt isn't an excuse to say "I can't run." That said I quite take your point about the self-fulfilling prophecy - and I've been guilty of that a few times.

Indeed. You make an excellent point about there being real physical limitations and I'm not a fan of the "you can do absolutely anything if you really want to enough" school of thought. Things like length of limb, type of muscle (fast twitch or slow twitch) that you have inherited from your ancestors, along with sharpness of eyesight, quality of vocal chords and so on and so forth mean that however hard you work at it, you won't be as good as someone who was given a better deal in the physical suitability department -- assuming they work equally hard, of course. But most people tend to believe that they "have no talent for X", which is often used as a good excuse for not even trying.