As I write this, I am overwhelmed by the thought that as an operative craftsman, an electrician, I often use the wrong tools in place of the common gavel or hammer. I sometimes use my linesman’s pliers in place of my operative hammer (and any other tool I can) because of their accessibility and my comfort level with their use.
I have used the same brand and style of pliers since I was fourteen years old. They have a natural balance and weight in my hand. You could say without the least bit of irony that I could identify my pliers in the dark as well as at noonday. They are always within reach as their natural habitat when not in use is my back-right pocket.
My pliers help me to make connections. Like Atropos cuts the thread of life, I use them to trim away excess wire to make it fit into place. I use them to twist multiple wires, sometimes of different thickness or hardness, into one harmonious whole.
No two electricians make their splices the same way. While similar, they all have a unique character. You could often tell a who made a splice by a simple visual inspection. Some are beautiful works of art seemingly spiraling into infinity. Others are short and squat. A good splice always has equal tension between the separate wires instead of a single conductor having the others wrapped around it. This harmony is essential because otherwise, it creates space and otherness, which we see as the arcing and heating of a failed union.
A splice is covered by a protective layer known as a wire nut. In earlier times, before being covered with a wire nut, conductors were tinned by soldering to ensure a good bond. In modern times this is seen as inefficient and unnecessary. Those long spiraling splices won’t fit under the protective covering correctly and leave the splice open to conflicts with other materials or splices of different potentials. The short and stout splice has little contact between the conductors, and their bond can be easily broken, resulting in the arc and heat of their failed union, as described earlier. Their shortness prevents the springs of the wire nut from firmly grasping them and makes it prone to falling off, leaving the union open to the outside world. The perfect length for a splice is one that takes all of this into account. It’s not too short and not too long. The perfect splice is a golden mean between the extremes of length and breadth. The perfect splice is like the knot of Hercules.
This might seem unimportant at first glance, but on further contemplation, these connections are essential. They are unseen all around us. There are probably dozens within the room you’re in as you read this. Our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness both literally and figuratively rely on these and similar connections.
Why then, if so much rests on the effectiveness of this tool, would I misuse it? If it is truly an extension of my wisdom and will, why would I use it as a hammer? Why would I use something designed to unite to destroy?
While somewhat useful as a hammer, the use of my pliers in this manner often results in a subpar job being accomplished. It also results in damage to the tool as well as the materials it is applied to.
My health, reputation, feelings of self-worth, and ability to feed my family all hinge on using the right tool for the right job. A graphic illustration of this is that I know an electrician that, while using his pliers to pull wire, slipped and knocked out his front teeth with them.
Speculatively, this is also often the case with similar results.
Would Hephaestus use a hammer designed molding brass (copper) when working with gold? I think that he would be careful not to let the least impurity into the form of his creation. I think of the beautiful harmony that results from his working of the metal. Each strike of his hammer creates a musical note corresponding with a degree of formation. These notes combine into a harmonious clarion call, a song as beautiful as anything played by Apollo on his lyre pointing to the possibility of transformation from baseness to beauty.
How then could the man that from a block of marble communicated that message, in reaction to criticism from outside forces, have used that very same tool to attempt to destroy this creation or, at the very least, mar its perfection. In this case, the craftsman didn’t use the wrong tool for the wrong job. He applied the same implement with improper and impious intent, much like the ruffians did in the allegory of the third degree.
Likewise, historically some of the most beautiful architecture and sculpture the world has ever seen has been destroyed not by its creators, not by forces within. Instead, they are leveled by those from without. These profane forces often replace these sacred monuments with weak facsimiles or copies of the same. They often supplant them simply so that they can appropriate them and call them their own.
I’ve realized of late that we are all in a battle. This battle isn’t with each other --lines drawn by the distinctions between us. The splice teaches us that those can be combined into a harmonious whole. We are in a battle with those forces which work to create those distinctions in the first place, those forces that seek to divide us, those forces that want to create the arcs and heat of a failed splice so that eventually over time they cause the entire union to fail.
How do we win this battle? We will be victorious by choosing the right tools and maintaining their purity by using them correctly, and not letting others use them against us. We win by using our speculative linesman’s pliers to create the perfect splice, and by doing so, we “let there be light.”