One of the surprises in reading the first chapters of Tim Ingold’s Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description is how much Karl Marx appears. Marx and Engels are partly foils, part of an argument against the traditional separation of mental from material, as later elaborated by Maurice Godelier (see previous Materials Against Materiality). But Marx also provides lucid ways to think anew about the process of production and human skills.
In the section on “Clearing the Ground” Ingold works toward a chapter titled “Walking the plank: Meditations on a process of skill.” The purpose of the chapter is to talk about how sawing a plank can illustrate three often overlooked aspects of technical skill: “(i) the processional quality of tool use, (ii) the synergy of practitioner, tool and material; and (iii) the coupling of perception and action” (2011:53). Marx returns at the end of the chapter:
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