Steven Colby and the transitive nature of the functional pot

This blog is sort of a record of what I’m thinking about and how I’m thinking. Its all there swirling around inside my head, just waiting to come out. But if you’ve been reading these posts for any length of time you will have seen that I often use another person’s questions as a jumping off point for my own discussion.

I am in the midst of organizing a response to a recent post by Richard Jacob, but in the meantime potter/blogger Steven Colby asks for some thoughts on a topic that is related. I thought I’d post the comment I left him just to preview the direction that my thoughts have been heading lately. Here’s what I said:

“Hey Steven,

I’ve been thinking about this issue as well. I like your statement: “the transitive nature of the functional pot”. And it is probably true that a large part of why functional potmakers are looked down on in the fine arts is that we are intending something besides objects of pure contemplation, “intransitive objects”. So what you are doing here is quite ambitious in the context of academia. But this really is the grounds on which pottery needs to be defended. Not just the potential for this “dynamism” but the virtue of BEING dynamic objects.

Do you remember that old Jack Troy article in the back of Ceramics Monthly years ago? The one in which he gamely challenged us to reconcile pottery as a ‘still life’ versus something you can serve your yogurt in? Here’s the link on the internet:

I recently found an interesting article in an old Studio Potter magazine from June of 1985 where the author investigates how art came to have such disdain for function. The article is by Nicholas Wolterstorff, but the whole edition is fascinating and worth a read.

Another interesting tangent just popped up in Richard Jacob’s blog. He’s the collector who wrote those beautiful and informative letters to Christa Assad that were later turned into a book. The topic of his most recent post asks the question of whether potters actually care who ends up with their pots. So its a question about whether we make these objects with specific intentions in mind. As a collector he is interested in showing that what he does in providing a home for over a thousand pieces of pottery is an important fulfillment of these objects lives. The question remains, is it enough for them to be lovingly dusted and looked at, or do functional pots need to have a role in serving and eating food to fulfill their destiny? Here is the link to his post:

I have my own thoughts on this, and I am organizing them into a post for my blog, but I’d love to hear your further thoughts on this issue.”

If any of you all have your own thoughts on these issues I’d love to get your feedback, but I also encourage you to wander on over to Steven’s blog and leave your comments there as well.

About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
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34 Responses to Steven Colby and the transitive nature of the functional pot

  1. Steven says:

    Carter –
    thanks for your visit and your words.
    i’ve got a number of thoughts on your thoughts – though the studio is beckoning.
    but – let’s do dialog.
    i really need some potters to talk to about this and they are few and far between in this ivory tower town.
    more soon.

    • Cool!

      I always enjoy digging into this stuff, so I look forward to our future conversations. I have started this blog as a way of engaging discussion and getting other people’s points of view, and I have been really pleased with the back and forth so far. As long as some of my posts can get, when things get rolling in the comments people’s ideas can easily dwarf the post itself.

      So this is a great topic you have raised. Lets see if we can get the internet potting community energized about it. Thanks for opening the can of worms!

  2. Lee Love says:

    Do you really add to a pot by putting it on a pedestal? By removing the 4th dimension?

    Still Life: A sort of oxymoron. Life is always in motion. To make a “still” life, you have to stop the motion of life. The object becomes less than what it was before we started intellectualizing it.

    • Nicely said Lee!

      I am a firm believer in the value of actually using useful objects. To deny them this interaction seems a diminishment of the object’s true potential. But I also see the point of view that Richard is expressing in his blog post. Aesthetic engagement is also a contribution to how a pot can be appreciated, and the way he adores the pots in his collection may actually be more involved than someone who uses them but takes them for granted. So I would say that there is nothing wrong with pure contemplation, only that it is a limited way of accessing an object’s worth. Its not just either/or, but sometimes can and should be both. What do you think?

      Hey. I’d be curious to hear what you think about Richard’s post. It sometimes takes him a while to post comments on the blog, but I’m sure he would be interested to hear what thoughtful potters out there have to say. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Lee! Always interesting!

    • Scott Cooper says:

      Yes, that’s a good point about Still Life. Another way to phrase “stop the motion of life” is “kill it”. Which is practically what happens to a good utilitarian pot when it gets put under glass or on the top shelf of a display cabinet.

      Not permanently dead, perhaps, but something close to it. Like pottery purgatory.

      • Just wait til you read my post on Richard Jacob’s question about collectors. You should read his blog post first (link above) just to see what point of view he’s defending. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with ‘still lifing’ a good pot, its just that there are better ways of understanding it and fulfilling its maker’s intention.

  3. Lee Love says:

    What is important, is to still our minds. Then we can better see the object as it is:

    “We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” –W.B. Yeats

  4. Steven says:

    correct Lee.
    great quote

    ‘still life’ – is kind of a joke – right?
    i know i over use points of ellipsis…
    i’m reading the term as ‘still…life…’

    • Yeah, it actually can seem quite absurd that modern art has taken a position that devalues functional objects. I encourage you to get your hands on that Studio Potter issue from June of 1985. It may be more complicated than what the Wolterstorff article describes, but the point he makes about this position’s arbitrariness is well taken.

      You can see that this move toward abstraction was symptomatic of a ‘gentleman’s’ world view which placed value in detachment from the visceral engagement with the world. And as admirable as it may be in limited circumstances, enforcing it as the new model of Western Art just poisons the well. It simply doesn’t speak for the aesthetic needs and desires of all people. Fine Art ends up being little more than an expression of upper crust Victorian sensibilities (I’m sure tracing a long path through privileged history to get there). An accident of culture, and not a rational necessity. The need for conceptualism in high brow Fine Art just seems like the preference of people who don’t like to sweat.

      And it is preposterous to think that when Postmodernism blew up the conventions of Fine Art it still left the proscription against function intact. So the new pluralism also excluded things. Hmnn… Does this sound hypocritical to anyone else? Somehow it pretends that rampant frontierism (a freedom from the past) is equivalent to a freedom to. They have simply exchanged one idol for another. Anyone else see it this way?

      I hope you can get your hands on that article. I’d love to hear what you think!

      • Scott Cooper says:

        I think that when Postmodernism blew up the conventions of Fine Art, it didn’t destroy them — more like it just reshuffled the deck. The need or desire for elitism and heirarchy persisted. (I see those as societal givens, not “an accident of culture”. But that’s probably just my reflexive pessimism at work.)

        I suppose you’re right, though, about function weirdly getting left out through the transition, while other “low” stuff made it over the threshold, like cheap/found/trash materials and pop culture subject matter and stylistic appropriation. Was that just an accident, do you think, or is there something particular about function that denied it access? Still too threatening to established interests, even after centuries of marginalization?

        • I would say that the way the deck was reshuffled was an accident of culture. The biases and prejudices are simply too ingrained for it not to have been symptomatic of a larger world view. The persistence of elitism and hierarchy in some form surely is a given. Its expression is at least partly contingent. I think….

          The failure of function to get through the new permissive doorway has to be some deeper underlying prejudice. And that’s why I think you may be onto something in your other comment about conceptualism. The art world was so used to looking at pots that they probably just took it for granted that pots would fail to meet the criteria of ‘higher meaning’. They were so used to looking at pots and not reading meaning into them that pots were easy to categorically dismiss. Why bother looking at pots if after 10,000 years they have failed to surprise us? That’s how I see it having played out at least….

      • Scott Cooper says:

        “I would say that the way the deck was reshuffled was an accident of culture. The biases and prejudices are simply too ingrained for it not to have been symptomatic of a larger world view. The persistence of elitism and hierarchy in some form surely is a given. Its expression is at least partly contingent.”

        I surrender! If you’re going to go all Philosophic Jujitsu on me like that, what chance do I have? Besides, any time I start talking about Art History, your BS filter should go on high alert. I have little to no idea what I’m talking about, on that count especially.

      • Scott Cooper says:

        “The art world was so used to looking at pots that they probably just took it for granted that pots would fail to meet the criteria of ‘higher meaning’. They were so used to looking at pots and not reading meaning into them that pots were easy to categorically dismiss.”

        I totally agree with this idea. Pots were already archaeological relics at the time “fine art” and “craft” split into their modern definitions, right? And also, I think that as modern people — by which I mean, people who have easy and cheap access to things like glass and plastic containers — we forget that it wasn’t very long ago that handmade pottery had as much in common with chamber pots and plumbing as with any sort of aesthetic or creative display. It would have been hard to romanticize the processes and materials of the illiterate guy throwing sewer pipe all day long. And also easily to “categorically dismiss” anything that resembled that.

        Seems to me that it was only after the industrialization of things like manufacturing toilets that those associations we able to be sheared away enough to make room for a broader range of “art pottery” or “studio pottery”. (Sure, there were Imperial porcelains and such going back forever, but I think their manufacture and place in the culture were as removed from utilitarian potters as High Renaissance oil painting was from house painters. But there I go again guessing at art history…)

        • This is actually a great twist to the conversation. But just to cloud the picture some more, you should read the Harry Davis article in the December 1981 edition of Ceramics Monthly. It is so easy to talk about “art” as if it were some unchanging category, or class of objects. In this article Davis gives a rough history of how those words have been used over time, and the forces and circumstances that went into changing how we use them. In the West, for instance, “Art was interpreted as skill, right up to the late 19th century”. Just what does that say about how things have changed?

  5. Steven says:

    about a year ago (in this institution, anyway) the buzz was buzzin’ around ‘Relational Aesthetics’ and ‘Dialogical Artmaking’ – i was made to read 1oo’s & 1oo’s of pages of dense theory around these fad movements. The best of which was based around the stuff that functional pots and functional potters have been sensitive to for millennia.
    there IS important stuff inside the mix of these texts – but i’m hesitant to try to keep up. because while the arguments can be strong – the knowlegde – the wisdom – the value – is innate to to any maker of things with any social sensitivity.
    i do believe that our field is in dire need of some theoretical champions who can really write. i know of a couple coming up in my generation.
    my hope is that they can infiltrate the wider but insular art critic circle and not come from a place of jockying for position.
    i’m more than pleased to get their back and work to make work worth writing about. and perhaps nail down an essay or lecture from time to time. but i insist on remaining keenly aware that good work gets done in studio – good work finds its place in the world and i’d rather leave the elites to figure out how ‘important’ what i’m doing is…
    i’d prefer to follow my nose and sweat it out in the trench…
    – but of course i’ll hunt down that SP piece. it’s important to be well read…

    • Good description of the muddle going on at your end of the ivory tower! Of course, like you said, its just the latest fad, and next year everyone will be running off in a different direction. From a distance it looks like a bunch of headless chickens scrambling every which way.

      And I think you are right, some of this stuff IS important, just not necessarily the way its being investigated. And maybe this is the downside of playing the postmodern gambit: There is no longer a drive toward system building because just about everything is negotiable. And I’m not really complaining about that, its just that it messes with our expectations.

      So I hope that you are right, and that there will be champions of what we do to take up the cause. My own belief is that rather than subtle insinuation, we need some folks to shake the ivory tower to its foundation. Not that we need to topple it necessarily, but that it needs a serious wake up call before it drives itself into obscurity and irrelevance. It absolutely kills me that establishment art is setting such a shortsighted example and that as a result we are faced with losing public funding for the arts and art education. (If you haven’t read my blog before this is one of my pet peeves)

      So while I’m totally with you about the priority of doing the hard work in the trenches, I also see that because of our indifference to the bigger picture we may be screwing ourselves over in the long run. Issues like function SHOULD matter, and all the charlatans who say otherwise are selling snake oil or opium. We just need to call their bluff, and make the persuasive case that what potters do IS legitimate art independent of some extraneous conceptual content. We need to get them to accept us on our own terms, not through mute obstinacy but through dialog and rational persuasion.

      I hope you give them the what for with your idea of the transitive nature of functional pots. It seems like an important issue.

  6. Pingback: …still…life… « Steven Colby: potter

  7. Kevin Carter says:

    Check your gmail adddress, there might be a copy of the article waiting for you there.
    Just to prove I’m legit, the article is four pages long, and there is a black and white picture of a 10th Century Chinese water flask on the third page, right Carter?
    I have more thoughts on this subject, but as usual, Carter has opened a big can of worms, and there’s lots to address, so I will compose a seperate answer.

  8. That’s the one! Cool that you have a copy of it that is internet friendly.

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this one!

  9. Steven says:

    Thanks Kevin – i’ll be looking for it.

    Quick thoughts before returning to the trench:

    Carter- when you speak of the ‘bigger picture’ i’m left wondering just what you’re thinking of.
    the critics? the art profs? the gallerists? the gallery art consumers? or is the bigger picture really a matter of exponentially expanding our audience on all fronts – an audience that includes but is not aimed at the elite?
    outside of skool – when i’m making and making – and exposing myself with vigor – i find i cannot make enough work to keep up with demand – which is just how i like it…so long as i can feed myself and my dog…
    Here in the University – working toward outside deadlines is hugely frowned upon – so the pots pile themselves up – the good the bad and the ugly. And for me this quickly becomes oppresive.

    i also think it’s important to seperate the academics from the art market power brokers and taste makers. my experience is that the academy has become complacent to the tune of having the tail wag the dog… (as a CYA this is not meant of any one person or institution in particular – but more a systemic problem)

    and but so, i want to be clear that i am in full throated favor of this type of back and forth – and also in favor of and hunger for more formal critical writing and dialog – so long as it doesn’t serve to distract, dissuade, aggrivate, intimdate or impede the maker – and/OR- the bigger picture audience.

    bunch more images added to the slideshow over at my place: – if you’re interested…

    for now.

    • I like your description of the bigger picture that includes all these backgrounds. And I would add to your list the kids who take art camps or have art classes in their schools, these kid’s parents, the teachers they have, the folks in the school district that control the purse strings, the folks who pay taxes for school budgets, the folks taking classes at community arts centers, the folks who teach them, the students who are in it just for fun, the students who are more serious, the hobbyists who give selling pots on etsy a shot, the hobbyists who have sales out of their homes, the hobbyists who quit their jobs and devote themselves to a new passion, the folks that are in it as a profession, and every stripe of person who enjoys beauty and who adds beauty to their lives by acquiring art and pots.

      Its a big list, but then its a big picture. The question for me is where is art taught? Where is art learned? What facilitates its appreciation? What hinders it? And what can we do to encourage access to each individual’s native creative capacity? If we only look at very small pieces of the puzzle we may fail to see….. the bigger picture. If we are looking at a handful of healthy trees we may overlook the undernourished forest they are a part of. Of course I could also be confusing the spots on that leaf with something more threatening, but at least I’m trying to keep my eyes on the bigger picture….

      As I said before, I am beside myself that we seem to be giving the bean counters an excuse to cut children’s education in the arts. I just see this as a symptom of a more pervasive dis-ease: the public’s relationship to art is one of decreasing participation, decreasing familiarity, and decreasing intelligibility (That’s a very broad generalization, but it seems to fit). And by no means am I condemning the marvelous contributions of this art. Its just that we are not getting a proper message across. And so my question is, what can we do better? For me its a question that includes the systematic disrespect of function in the establishment and how this trickles down.

      My brain is starting to freeze up, so please don’t expect me to be very clear right now….

      Oh yeah, I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts about the tail wagging the dog in the academy (You can write me in private if necessary). I definitely see complicity where I would have rather seen independence, but I suppose the system sets up a credential of ‘publish or perish’, so it might be asking too much….

      And while I totally agree that it can be counterproductive to “distract, dissuade, aggrivate, intimdate or impede the maker – and/OR- the bigger picture audience”, I also recognize that in situations of discrimination and injustice occasionally we need to suffer distraction, dissuasion, short term aggravation, minor intimidation, and even major impediments in order to make things right. If something is wrong, is it better to just sit back and take it, or are there times when it makes sense to rock the boat?

  10. Just a quick observation: the only thing I see that would inhibit functional pots from being accepted as fine art is the short shelf life inherent in everyday, or even occasional use. The very nature of it’s existence works against it’s longevity, and we’ve seen evidence in the art world everywhere that time creates value. In fact, intact functional pots from centuries past are considered art….. but the likelihood that a certain pot will survive continual use is not great. Hence the value association. Have I thoroughly muddied the water?

    • I think the discrimination is one of principle, not pragmatics (See the post I just put up on Pete Voulkos). And if ‘survivability’ was the reason pots are excluded from art, then this is easily exposed as nonsense.

      For instance, you COULD preserve pots as easily as you can paintings. Just store them away in museums and remember to dust them off every once in a while. And canvas paintings are hardly immune to deterioration in people’s homes. Natural sunlight tends to discolor things, water damage from a leaky roof will ruin them, and heaven forbid someone’s home gets burned down, because all that canvas and paint is very flammable. Surprisingly, all these events that ruin paintings don’t effect pots. So it would seem as if painting is at least as much under threat from the lived world as pots are.

      And it might even be argued that pots are even more long lasting than paintings. Just look at the history of art. Outside of cave paintings, the oldest record of human culture is mainly one of pottery. If durability was the discrimination, then canvas paintings, photography, etc, would definitely be seen as more transient than clay works. If the oldest recorded pot is x years old, how many more thousands of years will it take for a canvas painting to be that old?

      In the end it seems to be a prejudice against things that require physical engagement, and so far I can’t find any plausible excuse that would make this the case. When we pick away at the reasons for our blindly accepted perspectives we often find historical roots, but these are seldom things that can be supported on rational grounds. The fact that we take them at face value and live according to their dogmas just puts us into tidy little boxes. Sometimes that’s alright, but at other times it makes sense to question their authority over our lives. The fact that our ancestors believed such and such is not always enough to recommend that we do the same. Just think of how much hatred and discrimination has been foisted on the world through traditional ignorance. And if we don’t know any better, that’s one thing. But that we SHOULD know better, well, that is clearly something different. My fantasy is that artists are the type of people who should know better….

      • Scott Cooper says:

        “In the end it seems to be a prejudice against things that require physical engagement…” — I have to wonder if that’s just a byproduct of the real prejudice.

        Seems to me that the primary objection to objects coming out of craft traditions is their *apparent* lack of specific content — words and Ideas that can be perceived fairly easily and then bandied about in conversation, writing, etc. Critics want big ideas to grapple with; collectors want issues-based Art stuff that has specific, albeit debateable, “meaning”.

        We’ve talked before about how limited language can be at expressing important things, but I think academics and critics cling to language even more in the face of an object like a pot that lives in almost a wholly different realm; what’s the meaning of the contour inside a handle or a subtle variation in the surface of a glaze? How do you argue for or against its place in the world?

        • I think this need for conceptual content is much more recent than pottery’s ostracism in Western art. I know you’ve got that Wolterstorff article because I know you have 2 copies of that Studio Potter. You should read what he has to say.

          If I get the timing right, the Art establishment was still interested in the idea of beauty as a legitimate goal for art when that too got dropped into the dustbin by today’s rampant conceptualism. But until that time the dividing line wasn’t so much conceptual content and its absence, but any sort of contemplative object and viscerally useful/non-strictly-contemplative objects. Wolterstorff makes the point that architecture had this same problem for this very reason. Its not that you couldn’t contemplate the beauty of these things (they are beautiful after all), its just that they were tainted by also being physically interactive. Pottery today is just doubly damned: Not seen to have content and spoiled by usefulness. How crazy is that?

      • Scott Cooper says:

        Well, my good Sir, if you expect me to actually go READ things prior to ignorantly shooting my mouth off here, then you’ve completely failed to see me for what I truly am. Scandalous!

      • Scott Cooper says:

        In other words: OK. I’ll go read that article and get back to you…

  11. Steven says:

    yes Carter,

    my BS filter has kicked on overdrive with this convo.

    i think it critical to pick your game and not go all CalvinBall on us.
    first one must decide if they want to play with the elites: the tastemakers, curators and critics of the US High Art Establishment. If so – the rules are in place and you have to work inside them.

    It is not, however, the only game in town…

    • Scott Cooper says:


      While I agree with you that most attempts to fight the establishment will fail, where would we be if no one ever tried? Seems to me that many of the best things ever thought, discovered, invented or made originated with exactly that kind of rebellion against powerful, entrenched interests.

      Viva la revolucion!

      • Steven says:

        I’m with you Scott –
        & i am very interested in radicalization and revolution within our field and the pot’s potential to infiltrate the high art pantheon.
        This is however a tricky proposition and not accomplished thru winging at the doorsteps – but thru cleverness, persistence and contributing to the conversations that are ongoing inside this insular- but evolving -high art world.
        I do not think that trivia such as liking pots, liking to make pots or even making Really Great Pots grants one automatic admittance to the fine art pantheon.
        There exists a fair sized chasm between potters moving our tradition forward and the fine art establishment.
        Simply put – we have different histories:
        I gave a short lecture to my (non-art major) intro to ceramics class the other nite. They don’t know their history in general – and certainly not their art history – but that’s what i’m there for.
        My brief lecture was based around providing context for the 7 minute youtube clip i wanted to show them of Hamada throwing a cylinder off the hump.
        Asking what was happening in post war America at this time?
        -Jazz, Pollock, Ab Ex, Voulkos, etc…
        and then i brought them to post war Japan – a very different experience – right?
        what was going on there at that time? (i don’t pretend to be an expert)
        -reconstruction, reevaluation, a harkening back to tradition, Zen.

        there is no sense attempting to judge the prominence of either history – but we do well to acknowledge the difference.

        as 21st C. American potters we Can have lots to do with both histories – though for decades our field has leaned to the East – which is not a bad thing – but does it have a real place inside 21st C. Western High Art?
        – not by default, anyhow.

        • Yeah, not by default, although there seems to be so much else that gets through the gatekeepers by default. And it really then seems to be all about the cannons and what things count as default. That’s why I thought that Wolterstorff article was so fascinating. When you look at what things get a ‘pass’ and which things are excluded it can take the shape of historical and cultural accident very quickly. So your point about Postwar Japan being a different scenario is well aimed. And what you said about pottery and art having different ‘histories’ is spot on. If history had been different…. Just how rational or necessary are the things that occur in history? History doesn’t always get it right. And that’s why it is important to question the status quo and work for change where it matters. I think I would have loved sitting in your lecture that day!

          And I really can sympathize with your reluctance to start “winging at the doorsteps”. I can come off as awfully strident if you don’t know to take my rantings with a grain of salt. Deep down my agenda is that we DO have our conversation with these folks, but right now it seems few potters either care or have the patience to engage our brother and sister creators. We are certainly not being invited to the table very often…. So part of what I’m attempting is to “rile the base”. In other words, to at least get some of them to the point where they WANT to have this conversation. And if this means having the appearance of winging at the doorsteps then maybe that’s just what it takes. I suppose I just don’t know of a better way, but if anybody out there has ideas for getting potters motivated I’d be most interested to listen.

          So yeah, our message has to be more than “trivia such as liking pots, liking to make pots or even making Really Great Pots” (great quote by the way!). And that’s why I keep harping on the value of beauty, the value of the human creative capacity in all forms, and the value of function as potentially moral and absolutely Philosophical issues. So I really am curious how your thesis of the transitive nature of pots will play to that audience. I think its a smart gambit. Because when you get right down to it, there are no categorical reasons why these issues should not interest the art field. The exclusion of pots just seems arbitrary, inconsistent (considering what else survives by default), or simply a misunderstanding of potters as only capable of expressing “trivia such as liking pots, liking to make pots or even making Really Great Pots”. If that’s all we had to offer I would sweep us under the carpet as well….

          I am glad there is a place for some of us to have these conversations. I know I learn so much from listening to all the other points of view out there. So if pottery does matter in the scheme of things, then it makes sense to get more of us involved in this conversation.

  12. Steven says:

    (via mobile)
    I’m against ‘workers of the world unite’
    I’m a patriot and reluctant capitalist.
    So I am not trying to gather a critical mass that is perfectly in line with my agenda in order to push the line.
    I think this is appropriate considering the way that one (not groups of ones) succeed.
    I operate on certain people’s coattails and certain people operate on mine.
    And that’s fine.
    But potters are like democrats – trying to herd cats.
    Work hard, do good work, see who’s still with you when you look up to take a breadth.

    • I made a mistake in responding to this comment (now deleted) that I regret in hindsight. In my frustration I was not as broad minded as I would have liked. I said some things that were more confrontational than anything I ever posted before.

      It was not taken well….

      I offer my sincere apologies. The heat of the moment can make morons of us all, and with me it may not require all that much heat. Any disagreement or conflict between two people’s passions is a time to step back, take a deep breath, and listen carefully to what that other person is saying. You can still disagree, you can present your reasons for seeing it differently, but you should never make it personal. And when passions are involved it all too easily gets personal.

      So I’ve taken the past few weeks off to collect my thoughts, calm down, and consider what changes I need to make to how I run things here. Its still a work in process….

  13. I’ve given you my suggestions on an earlier blog you wrote, I don’t remember how many, but I wonder how they’re working. In this forum you are preaching to the choir. It would be incredibly uncommon to build a grassroots movement that would deliver your desired outcome through eloquent writing, philosophical discourse, or even ranting. I have seen this happen: Germany with Hitler, is the first instance that comes to mind, or on a positive note, with Gandhi– but they each in turn also ‘did’ things to promote and enact their agenda. These proposals, mind, were so extreme they were widely promoted and disseminated. Both leaders pushed their countries toward something phenomenal, one for peaceful self-rule, and the other for nationalism at the expense of anyone who would be a target. The world still reverberates at the memory of both initiatives.

    You are in a community well poised to begin to make a change, even by your own admission. I believe it’s not likely you’ll effect a comprehensive marketing strategy through the shotgun approach unless you’re already part of a recognized brand or a big name in the market. Some people are more effective working within the regime they wish to change, but even this must be done slowly and carefully. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, yes, but it’s also the first one replaced.

    In any marketing initiative, target markets must be ferreted out, tactics must be devised and implemented, and the snowball must develop momentum and size to create the avalanche. Your campaign lacks these basics, I believe, and may even alienate those you hope to recruit, at best, or at least enlighten. Step back and begin with your goal. What is it you wish to accomplish? At first I believed you simply wanted to understand and encourage discourse, but there seems to be another element lurking, and I can’t figure out what it is. Yet you keep coming back at it, so there must be something more there you’re not saying.

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