Share your thoughts on why clay matters

So last post I ended by inviting folks to share why they thought clay specifically was important to the experience of arts education and why clay art offered something unique and worth encouraging. Scott chimed in with:

In a word, “plasticity”.

And I have to agree that plasticity is a huge contribution of clay to the arts experience. What else is? What more can we say to flesh that idea out?

Not very many folks read this blog, I suppose, and of those few not many comment on posts, but I am sincerely interested in your opinions and insight. I want you to feel like you can share if you have something to share, especially if you are a person engaged with the medium in a serious way. But really everyone who has an opinion on why clay matters is welcome.

So let me ask again, if you are aware of resources that support the idea of clay in the arts lets hear what they are. Articles, essays, videos, whatever. If its just you rambling on about how clay reflects some greater truth about your own life and experiences, share that.

This blog has become too much of an echo chamber, and it takes so much of my time to write, let alone think these things through. If I’m the only one who cares about this issue, so be it. If you are fed up with academia and would rather see clay painfully extruded through the doors on its way out, so be it. If you think that education in clay has no value for the arts, so be it. If you think that the world will be just fine with future clay artists figuring it out all on their own, in casual night classes and community centers, so be it. If you think that justifying clay is beside the point and that the only thing that matters is one’s own appreciation, so be it…..

But if you DO care, if you think that clay matters more than just your own fancy, why not share that story?

I look forward to anything you have to say :)

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


Posted in Art, Arts advocacy, Arts education, Ceramics, Clay, Creativity, Pottery | 6 Comments

Navigating the wilderness, Ceramics style

A few days ago a facebook friend posted a few thoughts on how depression and sadness can seem like a wilderness: There is no map, and even if we know some of what we are likely to face (sadness, loss of interest and motivation, feeling alone, etc), none of us knows HOW we will face it. There are no rules, and everyone shows up at the gates totally unprepared. We step into the darkness and are unmoored from the context of meaning in our normal daily lives. We could be walking among our friends and family, but its like they are strangers, or we have some foreign mark on our foreheads. Its like that nightmare where we show up to school in our underwear: There is something about us that doesn’t belong. How the hell do we make it to the other side? How do we escape this wilderness?

I won’t get into those issues right now, but it occurred to me yesterday that there are many such situations where we are utterly unprepared, even knowing that these are things that we may inevitably at some time need to face. And then it struck me that the brave defense of the ceramics program at Grinnell college was very much a case in point.

For those of you who missed it, Simon Levin got word out the past few weeks of news that his alma mater would be shutting the doors on its Ceramics program. Once the current instructor retired they would hire no one to replace her but instead power down the studio and let the dust collect. Of course we were all outraged! But what were we gonna do? Simon advocated a writing campaign, and thankfully as of yesterday the administrators had agreed to offer a class next term. Bullet dodged!

But was this entirely unexpected? Does the field of Ceramics sit so comfortably in academic settings and having its credentials challenged is something new? If anyone has paid any attention most of the studio arts are under some form of threat, but low-man-on-the-totem-pole Ceramics is often the first one pushed off the plank. And if potters were unaware of the tenuous grasp they hold on their academic standing, heads have been buried deep and for a seriously long time….

My sense from the responses circulating is that the administrators were swayed more by the volume and enthusiasm of the outpouring than its content. There were a few anecdotes of ‘what ceramics has meant to me’ and some appeals to ‘why teaching art is good for students’, but not much (from what I could tell) about why Ceramics specifically needs preserving. What is different about clay? What makes it irreplaceable for students and for creative expression? Why are the clay arts different from other art forms?

These are seemingly big issues for the field, and yet it seems like we can’t get a handle on them when its most needed. We are faced with the wilderness and we are utterly unprepared. You don’t save Ceramics by stating that it made a difference in Joe Smith’s life. Plenty of things make plenty of difference in people’s lives. You don’t save Ceramics by advocating for creativity. Plenty of creative practices do the same tasks as well or better. What are the impersonal and unique reasons that sets what we do apart? Why clay?

The next few posts I plan on exploring that a bit. We need a resource for answering those questions, because Grinnell isn’t the first or the last to make such precipitous decisions. We can only be better prepared by putting intelligent and gifted minds to work on the problem. Much work has already been done, pieces of the puzzle, and my plan is to share as many of them as I can. And in the spirit of sharing, let me ask YOU what some of your thoughts are, and if you know of any essays or videos that shed light in the way we need. I have a small list I’m going to share, but the more the better.

This IS worth thinking about.

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


Posted in Art, Arts advocacy, Beauty, Ceramics, Clay, Creativity, Imagination, Pottery | 1 Comment

What Artificial Intelligence shows us about understanding art

I had a great introduction to this topic in a conversation I recently had with the great potter blogger Whitney Smith. In one of her comments to a post on her blog she included a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe that got my brain working. The quote was:

“I don’t very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart.”

This rang familiar to me, not so much in my pottery experience, but from a situation that taught me the difference between following your head and following your heart….. My own experience with “knowing too much” came when I was still in Philosophy grad school. I had read so much technical writing that I could no longer read without analyzing, whatever it was. That meant fiction and all other non-serious writing was wasted on me. I had grown up an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, but after so much breaking apart of other writers’ thoughts I couldn’t stand the frivolous nature of pure story telling. It was ruined for me…..

Its possible that my break from Philosophy had something to do with rejecting this attitude, but the interesting thing was that the first book I picked up post-philosophy was Alice in Wonderland, the most absurd and nonsensical book I could think of. And I was saved! I’m back to reading for fun, and I can finally look back with amusement at how serious I once was….

The difference turned out to be that when all I knew was what was being said, and I could break that apart and judge how well the ‘what’ was executed, how well it hung together with other things, its own internal consistency, and also simply how well it measured up to other known facts, well, that was a pretty impoverished and incomplete understanding. How could I like anything that inevitably was so obviously inadequate? How could I like the things that I knew so much about, technically, that they always had some flaw or area of coverage that failed in some fundamental way?

I imagine that is what O’Keeffe was saying too. Knowing too much about paintings, taking them apart, is not a good recipe for enjoying them…..

Which brings me to artificial intelligence. This morning I read a nice essay by a neurologist who through some bizarre coincidence bears the same name as my Philosophy major professor who was also interested in human cognitive abilities and artificial intelligence.

In the last several years, a poker-playing program (Cepheus) developed by the computer science department at the University of Alberta has consistently outplayed the world’s best heads up limit hold ’em players. What makes this conquest so intriguing is that the computer isn’t programmed in advance to play in any particular style or have any knowledge of the intricacies of poker theory. Instead it is an artificial neural network with a huge memory capacity (4000 terabytes). It plays and records the outcome of millions of trial and error simulations, eventually learning the optimal strategy for any given situation. It does so without any knowledge of the game or its opponent, or any of the subtleties that inform the best human players. It is completely in the dark as to why it does anything.

In other words, simply as a technical exercise Cepheus can decide what works, what doesn’t, and choose between them. It cannot tell you why it should do this, simply that some things add up and other don’t. It could take apart all the various options and sort through them to find the optimal outcome. Very proficient, indeed!

When we look at art that we know inside and out technically we can analyze how well crafted it is, how well executed it is, how well designed it is, how consistent it is with its own values, and the truth is that very few things in art do all of those things well. If THIS is what we understand about art, then no wonder we sometimes suffer from knowing too much. How can anything match up to the sublime mechanical ideals in our mind?

So how is it that Alice in Wonderland saved me from creative despair? The simple answer is that not everything is meant to make sense. Not everything is meant to be judged in this way. Not everything even cares about the values of an analytical mind. And that has to be okay. Art is not always some rational whole that fits together perfectly, can be taken apart like a clock to display the inner workings of its logic. Rather, art is often an accretion of things that have no prior reason for being thrust together, that add up simply through happenstance and innovation, through blind luck and serendipity. If you break those things apart no wonder you will be disappointed by the audacious absurdity. Things fit together in art because we made them so.

The one thing that the technical breaking apart of facts about some work of art does not always do, or do well, is answer the question “Why?”. If you measure some heavy poorly thrown pottery against the standards of craftsmanship, of course it fails, and of course you have a reason not to like it. You know too much about the technical side of pot making to condone its slipshod methods and execution.

But what if its not about this ‘craftsmanship’ thingy so many of us are obsessed with? Contemporary artists have long since lost fanatical fascination with the ideals of craftsmanship. One of the trends in pottery these days is boring boring shapes that are simply the canvasses for some sort of decoration. A cinder block wall can hold a painting as well as a sheet of paper. Straight and relatively smooth seem to be all that is required….. And while I personally lament that not more interest is taken in pure form these days, obviously many artists have different values and hold decoration as superior to form, profile, and design sophistication. What serves decoration better than simplicity?

And knowing what I know about form, profile, and design sophistication I could be seriously put off by pots that didn’t subscribe to these ideals. But the thing I am lacking in that presumptuous analysis is the ‘Why?’ question. And when we understand that the why of things is often still a mystery, the ‘what’ of being expressed is no longer all that matters.

The point of mystery is that it defies our cold blooded analysis. And there is joy in that. Its the unexpected thrill of seeing my teacher’s name on an article he could have written, but discovering it was someone else. Surprises like that, like Alice in Wonderland, are an important part of life’s adventure. Is it a surprise that often this is precisely the joy of making art? That expression itself will lead us to new discoveries? That making itself is a question of “What things are possible?” and “How could it look if I did this instead?”?

So with pottery we can face the same issue. I still surround myself with as many new examples of pottery magic as I can, and I have not lost that sense of wonder that charms. I am continuously amazed at what other artists do, confounded at why they do it this particular way. Its a challenge and an inspiration. The stuff I don’t like or don’t understand doesn’t bother me because I know I am just not getting it like the maker intended. They are speaking some other language, and the meaning of the words is obscured…. Or, I simply don’t care about what they care about. That’s okay too.

I’ll end with another quote from neurologist and alternate universe Bob Burton:

I confess to a bias for those minds that rely on scientific evidence and critical reasoning for those questions that can be answered empirically while simultaneously retaining a deep appreciation for the inexplicable, mysterious and emotionally complex — the indescribable yet palpable messiness that constitutes a life. For the latter, our value added isn’t in any specific answer, but in the deeply considered question. In the end, it will be the quality of the questions that will be the measure of a man.

Things to think about……

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


Posted in Art, Beauty, Ceramics, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery | 2 Comments

Responding to gallery interest

Galleries and artists can form a working relationship that, when it works, can be profitable for both parties. When it works well its worth doing. My experience has rarely been that. Okay, never. So maybe I’m a wee bit sensitive. In any event, call me cautious.

I just received an inquiry from a gallery manager who had seen my work in a show, and the invitation was to possibly do business together. I’m not opposed to it, despite being repeatedly burned in the past, but I do want to know what qualifications this gallery has for representing my work. I think too often we hear from a gallery and are so honored by their interest that we sign the contract without looking deeper. They are not automatically doing us a favor by showing an interest or even taking our work.

My unfortunate experience is that occasionally galleries are looking for ‘window dressing’ that makes their shop look full while they get to the real business of selling the ‘important’ work. Sometimes some work is just there for decoration while other work is more actively promoted and sold. Not everything that takes up space in a gallery earns its place by selling, and the stuff that does sell is often more actively promoted. And maybe that’s fair to them, but is it fair to you?

So of course I want to know why my work belongs in a particular space. Why are the people running the gallery qualified to work with me? Do they have my best interests at heart or are they simply looking for a cheap way to fill out the space? The work is good enough, but are the people whose business it is to sell it good enough? Can I trust them to represent it to customers? Do they know anything about pots? Do they know anything about the sort of pots that I make? Do they even like pots?

Unless they can answer these questions in a way that gives me confidence, why would I entrust my work to their safekeeping? I did my job making the pots, what does their job look like in selling them? If it requires no experience, no interest, no investment on their part, then clearly you are taking an enormous risk that the work will simply sell itself. And some work really does sell itself. But does yours? Always? Displayed in even unfavorable settings? Collecting dust in the back storage rooms?

If you are a professional potter you have the right to demand professional representation. If you have a long history of making pots you have the right to demand a long history of at least understanding pots if not just selling them. Why would you trust your pots to someone who doesn’t really know pots? Why would you trust your pots to someone who does not have the background to speak intelligently about what you are doing? Think how easy it would be to misrepresent what we are doing……

In the end the gallery must answer why they feel your work in particular belongs in their space. There is a lot riding on the quality of their answer, and if they can respond in a way that satisfies you, at least that’s a start. Never accept that they are the ones doing you a favor. Its your work, and unless they have artists to represent their shops would be empty. YOU are providing the value that they become responsible for. Their JOB is mediating our work out into the world. You have already sweated and put in the labor. Its their job not just to get your work seen, but to get it sold. Don’t let them tell you that putting work in their gallery is ‘good exposure’. That’s code for “We won’t actually lift a finger to sell it”……

Once upon a time artists had few other means of making a living besides going through reputable galleries. We NEEDED them. Obviously they still need artists to populate their spaces, but the truth is that these days we have many other means for getting our work out in the world. They CAN still do us a favor, but the truth is also that they owe us for committing our work to their space. It is WE who are really doing the favors….. How can they prove that they are worthy of our investment in their display area?

So here is my response to that inquiring gallery. I hope that it demonstrates that I am looking out for myself, and that I expect something in return for letting my pots sit in their space. Here’s what I wrote:

Thank you for your kind words and your interest in my pottery. I don’t often work with galleries but I am always interested to hear what they are offering. If the timing is right and the terms suit my needs I would be willing to do something with your venue.

I noticed in some of the images on your website that you do have potters’ work in your space and I am curious who has shown there and what their experiences have been. Some spaces do well with pottery and some do well with specific types of pots. I agree, my pots are among the best work being made in Georgia, but that doesn’t mean it will sell itself. Unfortunately the general audience is rarely educated enough about pottery to understand and appreciate what most potters are really doing. Some things have ‘curb appeal’ and are fairly obvious to even folks with no experience of handmade pots, but quite often its a bit more subtle than that…..

What is your own background experience with pots? Educating the audience is difficult, and in a selling situation requires both familiarity with the medium and affection for what is being expressed. I’d love to hear what pots you are most fond of and why. Who are some of the contemporary clay artists whose work moves you? What do you see them expressing that makes a real difference in adding beauty and value to the world? I’d love to know more about why my work in particular appeals to you, and why you think its a good fit for your gallery space. What things would you tell customers looking at my work? How will you represent my pots to inquiring customers?

Thanks again for your interest. I look forward to hearing from you :)

Stuff to think about, at least…..

Let me leave with a link to a Don Pilcher guest post essay on Michael Kline’s blog from a few years ago. Don describes his experience of walking into a museum where he was told a piece of his was on display, only to find that it was hard to find. A museum may be a different sort of beast from what we were talking about, but the point I am after is how being included is not always enough, and it seems fairly easy to relate Don’s experience here to what often happens in other venues.

“So out of the galleries, down the hall, past the restrooms, past the office spaces, past the janitorial closet and, finally, we reached the intensity cases. Still in the museum, but just barely. These are glass front cases, about chest high, the size of a huge office aquarium. Inside were about sixty pots – as tightly packed as any bisque kiln you ever saw, tighter than white on rice.”

Read the rest here:

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


Posted in Art, Ceramics, Creative industry, metacognition, Pottery | 6 Comments

Potter from another planet

Tony Clennell wrote a nice little blog post that started with his condolences to me for the loss of my dad. He continued the essay with examples of a mentee and a teacher friend who both have experienced some recent obstacles to their creative practice, and he encouraged us all to stay true to our voices, to not flag just because the world is somehow now standing in our way. Its good advice, and a nice companion piece to the essay I wrote about finding motivation during the times we don’t feel like making.

In his comments in the share on facebook Tony wondered if he had to be stupid more than daring to stand up and take the beatings he’s received as a potter. “Is it daring or just my stupidity? Sometimes I’m not sure of my footing but I plod on.” My response was:

I think stubbornness, Tony. Daring is overrated. The important thing is not the risk but the determination to follow through. And I’d never say ‘stupid’, but I don’t think its strange to walk through mine fields to do what you need to do. Ignoring things others turn their lives upside down over is sometimes what it takes to be a creative soul. On the flip side, we also tend to move mountains for things that others can’t even see. As I say, daring and stupid generally have nothing to do with it. Its more like we come from a different planet and just don’t fit the reality others walk in. Or so it often seems to me :)

Creative folks like us are sometimes strangers to the world we are born into. We don’t get what others find so important, and mostly others don’t really get what we are trying to say, the things we want to talk about, the things we find important. If that’s a problem we maybe need to get a ‘real’ job and spend our time chasing the marketplace, chasing the trends, chasing what society wants us to be, rather than camped out in our studios obsessed with discovering fascinating things about shape and color, process and technique, surface and design, that only our own imagination and unique experience of the world can give us access to. We step into our studios, and at the same time we step away from ‘normal’ society. You can’t spend that much time wrapped up in your own imagination and not create some distance to a world for which most parents will tell their kids to not grow up to be an artist…..

Daring would be dropping a normal life for a creative one. Stupid would be not listening to the voice that is inside you. Once you have acknowledged that you have something unique to say, and that expressing this is part of your reason for being here, you have accepted that you may come from a different place than most folks. You have accepted that you may be a potter from another planet….

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


Posted in Art, Beauty, Ceramics, Creative industry, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery | 3 Comments

Motivation for the lackluster potter

This morning from Seth Godin in my blog reader:

A friend was in a meeting with a few colleagues when my latest book came up.

One person said, “After I finished it, I was all fired up, and I felt like quitting my job to go do something amazing.”

The other one said, “That’s funny. After I finished it, I was all fired up and I couldn’t wait to come to work to do something amazing.”

Fired up isn’t something you can count on, but it’s certainly possibly to create a job, an opportunity and a series of inputs and feedback that makes it more likely that people get that way.

And fired up sometimes drives people to do amazing work with you, especially if you’ve built a job description and an organization that can take that energy and turn it into work that matters.

Give people (give yourself) projects that can take all the magic and energy and enthusiasm they want to give.

Lately I have been feeling undermotivated for making pots, glazing pots, firing pots, looking at pots, in short anything to do with with this one true passion of my life. There is a lot going on right now, and I am doing my best not to feel guilty for letting some dust collect in the studio. My father passed away while I was visiting last month, having collapsed in my arms just before his fatal decline…. I’ve also been mysteriously taken off the teaching schedule at the place I have faithfully taught for the last 17 years, without any warning or explanation…… So you could say at this point that I am lacking a bit of my luster. If not for my cheery natural disposition I’d be in the dumps.

Maybe I can be excused for not feeling like making pots. Perhaps its easy to understand that right now I don’t have the proper motivation to do good work, do any work. I don’t doubt that I will dig back into my clay at some point, dig out of the hole I’m in. In fact, without the income from teaching that I have relied on for 17 years, I had been counting on to pay my bills, now I either need to get some other paying job to replace my lost income or find some way to get my hands busy in clay again. If I don’t find the time for my studio or some inevitably less inspiring day-job, I will be eating Ramen noodles again for all my meals…..

Which brings me to a conversation I was having yesterday with my friend Julie. Her sister has recently returned from the hospital and is pretty depressed. She’s got the same sort of lack of motivation I have. And talking about my friend’s sister helped frame my own situation in a way that helped me see things more clearly. And I really know this stuff already, but its so easy to lose sight when the world just seems so… blech.

What I came to understand (again) was this: We can’t always wait to do things until we feel like doing them, with the risk that we may never feel like doing them. If the incentive necessary to do something is that we feel like it, in a sense we may be confusing the cart with the horse, but not in a straightforward sort of way. You see, the truth quite often is that we don’t simply do what we like, but that we also like what we do. Stepping into the studio would remind me why I love making pots. Making pots would help make me FEEL like making them. I would enjoy it, and have no trouble justifying my time spent in the studio.

But that’s not where I am right now. Right now I feel like I don’t want to be there doing anything, much less making pots. I have no emotional/motivational desire or justification for being there, so I’m not. And yet, as I’ve hopefully just demonstrated, the primary reason I don’t feel like being there is that I AM NOT THERE ALREADY. Being there would itself quite possibly solve that.

I don’t want to downplay serious depression issues, but I know that in my own case, from my own extensive history in the studio making things, you can have the excuse that you won’t make pots because you don’t feel like it, but that if you DO make them anyway you can actually turn a negative day into a positive one. You can change from being the victim of your emotional state into its master.

Its sometimes like a kid who doesn’t like waffles because they look weird, not at all like pancakes: Try them, you’ll like them. Its at least occasionally the difference between an open mind and one that has already decided. Waiting for the right ‘feeling’ is simply saying that feeling is necessary. Without it, why bother? Its also saying that we can’t manually adjust how we are feeling, but that we are simply stuck with the cards we are dealt. In some severe cases that may be true. But as Julian Baggini says:

“Emotions are assumed to be beyond our control, ebbing and flowing in anarchic independence from the rational mind. But if we question the judgments that lie behind our emotions, we will often find that those feelings do, indeed, change. We can help the way we feel, if the way we feel flows from a mistaken judgment that we can correct.”

Sometimes the feeling has to follow the doing. The mistake we sometimes make is in putting the cart before the horse. We can’t simply wait for the cart (feeling) to lead us. If we only do the things we like, there is this tremendous but unseen roadblock in front of us. The cart itself blocks our path. Sometimes we look at the roadblock and are unnerved. We see the obstacle and it prevents us from crossing to the other side. But the roadblock is only stopping us because we refuse to navigate it. Its a form of intimidation. The child whines to its parent “I don’t want to”. As if wanting was the only or most important reason to do something…..

And the weird thing is that once we have crossed over, if we look back, often we can no longer see the roadblock. Once we have rediscovered the joys of doing, our lack of motivation was only ever apparent from the side of ‘not doing’. Its like a see through mirror: from the one side you can see through, but from the other it is blocked and reflects back on you…..

Maybe the mirror analogy is a good one, with maybe an Alice through the looking glass twist. There are times when you need to look at yourself, do a bit of contemplation, but there are others where you need to see what’s going on on the other side, you need to push beyond the barriers, and the mirror is either in the way or it lets you pass through. It shows you what’s on the other side and how to get there….

Stuff to think about, at least…

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


Posted in Art, Arts education, Creativity, metacognition, Pottery, Teaching | 7 Comments

Your art is not a lie, or “Yesterday’s post was my mouse’s fault, not mine”


My mouse has been double clicking erratically and confoundingly for about a week now, and other than exiting tabs unintentionally it hadn’t gotten me into too much trouble until it suddenly decided to post the stuff on my blog yesterday. Whoops!

I wasn’t even begun editing, and there were about fifty other things I wanted to say. The mouse had other ideas. It took the two raw ideas I had copy and pasted into the text and decided that was enough. I was shocked at the mechanical impertinence. How dare my mouse post something without my permission? Something with my name on it, something I had no intention of letting go of without radical and drastic overhaul?

But then the irony of it struck me. The two quotes themselves were lined up to talk about the inadequacy of intention for at least some of our creative expression, and how the tools of our process sometimes inform the essence of what gets ‘published’. How fortuitous that my mouse cooperated enough to let at least those ideas come to light!

Still, I felt bad for all the folks who get my posts via subscription. It must have seemed weird, even among the weirdness of my usual ravings. There are no take backs once its sent, and the explanation I later edited back in would never be seen by these recipients unless they came to the site itself. My apologies to you all for that confusion!

So what was I planning on talking about? The general theme I had been mulling had to do with the difference between expression as something that rides on the surface, that could have been different, that can be true or false, that can lie, and manifestation, which reflects something deeper and more permanent, more essential.

I’m not sure I have the right words for this discussion (yet), but it seemed worth talking about. The idea I had in mind was along the lines of whether helping a friend expresses our friendship or whether it manifests it. Helping seems to actually be what it means to be a friend. This is what friends do. The actions are not symbolic of something other but are in fact the thing itself. You manifest your friendship by doing this and that. Do you see what I’m getting at?

(Note, I am not saying that it is either/or, but that there is a difference worth noting. It seems that some things we express can count as manifestations, but that manifestations are more limited than expression by the constraints of its fundamental nature. We can ‘express’ things besides the truth, for instance, but there isn’t as much leeway in what we can manifest truly. And THAT was the reason I titled my previous post “Your art is a lie”…..)

Now think about that in terms of our creative expression. Is our art a manifestation, or is it simply an expression? In what cases is it one and in what is it the other?

Let me close with something I also read yesterday that may shed some light on what I am thinking. Its from a review of the new film about David Foster Wallace, and if you have the time you should read the whole thing. This is one of the parts I was struck by:

4. One thing that hit me as we watched the film was just how ordinary it all was: the movie, the treatment of the characters, the airport scenes, the car rental lots, the appetites temporarily satisfied with junk food, the outbursts and mumblings…. There is a scene in which Lipsky practically begs Wallace to admit he’s brilliant, and Wallace rebuffs him. Wallace values his “regular-guyness” not as an affectation but as a survival tactic, and as a sincere reality. This is a reality (and not just of being a writer) that we are reticent to admit or openly embrace: no one escapes the ordinariness of everyday life; no one escapes being regular. No one. Sure, there are moments (at widely different scales) of excitement, passion, genius, violence, and rage…there are inequities and injustices that are horrible and that we (hopefully) work to address or redress…. But these are all set against a profoundly mundane backdrop—really the overwhelming foreground—of ordinary life. Wallace’s writings wiggle into the ordinary, the regular, even when his topics occasionally appear charged or esoteric at first blush. But, too, writing is ordinary. It’s just a life, just a form of living life.


Things to consider, perhaps……

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!




Posted in Art, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery | 2 Comments