"we are all searching for our identities. This is the way of the artist."
Tai - regardless of whether anyone reads or judges any of the rest of this discourse (though I have followed and I am pretty sure I understand the respective points and positions), that last statement is a resonating truth. Any forum or group of dedicated bladesmiths I have known in these past 7 years of learning and making stuff have all continually struggled with these same things.
1. what historical (even if it is only from 2 months ago in some cases) influences should I use in my work?
2. what tools and techniques will I use (and what will I avoid)?
3. who is my audience?
4. what is the goal or goals of doing this (personal satisfaction, personal growth, spiritual connection or realization, money, fame, keeping culture alive... and many more)?
We are all searching for our identity.
For me, I think I am comfortable with having different facets (different hats to wear, sort of), so that there are times when I am trying to pay homage to the great work of China (partially for the simple fact that almost no one else in the US seems to recognize this amazing treasure trove and the instability of China has made it almost vanish at times), and other times make stuff for my Texan friends to use, and sometimes pick up some extra money for my family. These three things don't go well together, but they are all part of who I am and what I do, so I move between them.
How is any of this NeoTribal? Well, I know when it is... because I set the limits on myself that I identify with my own NT work (which for me, is no electricity).
Why don't I limit myself to no electricity when making daos? Well, because they had water wheels and slaves... and I have chosen to limit myself by avoiding those things.
The forms we work in are determined by the limits we set and the aspects of ourselves we are trying to express and achieve... at least I think that is true.
as always, thanks for bothering to read this stuff