How many lumps do you want?

So I probably bungled the last post. John Bauman makes the excellent point that “These rants are today’s poetry. Okay, we still have poetry too. But I don’t think these rants are meant to be exact with their language. They’re broad. They’re general. They’re akin to preaching, not to teaching. In anticipation of having such a rant exegeted, there’s always an implied “You know what I meant” attached.” It certainly seems like this is how it was taken by just about every commenter on every blog or facebook page the quote has been posted (Not an exhaustive survey, but over 100 blog comments, and about the same on facebook). The poetic truth of the affirmation obviously trumps the dubious poetic license. I guess the poetic intention is just more interesting than anything literal.

Here’s Bugs Bunny laying on some poetic justice:


Who asks for a knock on the head when they can imagine they are being offered sugar?

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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5 Responses to How many lumps do you want?

  1. Don’t think you bungled anything. You just didn’t agree with the majority and still don’t have to.

    Heh. I had to google “exegeted”

  2. john bauman says:

    “Heh. I had to google “exegeted””

    I have to get my money’s value out of my Reader’s Digest subscription, so I simply pore over the “It Pays To Increase Your Wordpower”. Tomorrow’s word will be “omnivorous”.

    No lumping was intended. Sorry if I came across that way. I do love Bugs Bunny though, and I think that Bugs in the “Rabbit of Seville” is probably the most brilliant cartoon ever produced.

  3. Scott Cooper says:

    Hey Carter,

    Before you take all the lumps that people might be willing to hammer out, I think you were completely right to disagree with Glass’s assumptions about taste, and that you made an interesting extrapolation from that to what you’ve seen in teaching beginning potters.

    It’s fine and reasonable to take things like that quote as web-enabled inspirational poetry — as John B. said — but that doesn’t mean we can’t also tear them apart and figure out where they are factually untrue, especially as a jumping off point to other discussions. Both approaches can be interesting and useful.

    Glass implied that aesthetic taste is an innate property, and therefore that possessing “killer” taste with regards to a particular medium is possible, prior to any experience or expertise in that medium. Like you, I think that’s wrong for all but the rarest of people. In my experience, taste has far more to do with nurture than nature — a.k.a. culture, socialization and education. (My three year old has awful taste.)

    But of course, everyone believes that *they* have good taste, so trying to convince them otherwise can be an exercise in futility. I think that teaching aesthetic taste is a huge challenge, but that it’s also necessary to helping most people learn to make good work.

    If challenged on it, I bet even Glass would agree that most people — even those interested in creative work — don’t have “killer taste”. I suspect he was intentionally saying that as an inspirational device. Complimenting people on qualities they may or may not actually possess is an excellent way to lure them in for your real point, which is this case was about the need to do the hard work to get through the time when your stuff sucks because you haven’t yet earned the skill to do better. (cf. 10,000 Hour Rule, etc.)

    As you said in your first post, that’s a message worth spreading, even if it takes some casual lying/poetic license to get traction.

    Heck, if you’re still reading this comment, I’m probably lying to you right now…

  4. john bauman says:

    Look! here’s yet another one…

    • That’s a good one John! Thanks for sharing.

      I totally agree with the point about us often being the worst judge of our own work. And its not just our humility that sets us up but our occasional self satisfaction. We can be blinded in so many ways…. I guess that’s why it seems that the more we open ourselves to a wider view, consider what others have to say, the more we learn, the more we experience, the better our perspective on these things will be.

      Thanks as always for chiming in!

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