Back to Heidegger: that tools which are ‘ready to hand’ (zuhanden) disappear into the task, and only become again ‘tools’ to us (as being, in themselves, things) when we put them down. I’ve written before, wondering about tools which we never put down — the tools which once we start using them, are internalised into our augmented experience — tools which become so much a part of our embodied being that we can never see them again in their own thingness. The word, not the axe. Also, possibly, pervasive tools like the mobile phone, certainly the internet, for some of us.
But there’s a moment with all of these tools when you first pick the thing up — before it melds itself into your extended being, before it disappears into the task of being-in-the-world once and forever, there must be a first time, when you test the heft of the thing as a thing with capabilities, when it is briefly possible to feel the interface betwen self and thing (I remember the first whole texts I read as a child, and that could feel the world through the words. But soon there was only the world — language since then has become such a part of me, it is no longer a tool I feel the use of).
We don’t seem to have words for that moment — feeling the new newness of something becoming part of us (we don’t really have a word for that incorporation itself, either, other than love, and this is not love) — when we are, briefly and uniquely, aware of the particular interface it effects between us and our task, surely a moment when we can learn something, when we last see clearly our chosen tool and feel its heft, become aware of how it rubs against our hand in a particular way, has a certain weight, and more importantly, how it could be different — that there might have been other choices, other ways to light our way through the forest, other ways to scar the world with our memories and desires that the future might know us… when we heft the tool-as-a-thing for the first (and last) time (think ‘early man’ lifting the thighbone in the prelude to 2001) and it becomes part of us, and reshapes us and our (the only) world forever.