Alan Watts: “What if money was no object?”

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 Alan Watts: “What if money was no object?”

  1. Scott Cooper says:

    Very interesting, especially because the more I think about it, the less sure I am if you posted this because you advocate this idea, or because you disagree with it. Intrigue!

  2. I’m guessing you are referring back to my “Riptides” post, and I can see how that might give an impression I might disagree with Watts on this, but I’d rather start from his opening question and propose that its not just getting paid for what we love doing that gets us into trouble, but the attitude of doing it FOR the money. If we can preserve a mental distance from letting the paycheck become the reason behind our actions we get the chance to continue loving what we are doing. Nothing about that will have changed if we can keep the money aspects as far in the recesses as possible. It might take some sophisticated self deception, compartmentalizing, or split personality. Or maybe just the utter sanity of knowing that you can’t go down a certain road without risking ruining things…..

    Which is why I’d probably feel so much more balanced and fulfilled as an artist if I were independently wealthy and had no financial pressure on making pots. Not being able to sell pots would be far less onerous if my livelihood didn’t depend on it. Once upon a time I was in Philosophy grad school, and despite being good at the work I ended up hating it. Luckily for me I had also found pottery at about the same time, and I discovered that I now had something that I truly loved doing. I had to learn to follow my heart regardless of how much momentum was already pointing me in the direction of Philosophy. That was a difficult choice to make, but one I’ve never regretted.

    So really I see Watts’ talk as something that complements what I said in the “riptides” post. He doesn’t address the issues I raise, but he offers a solution to the same problem: As much as you can, behave as if money were not the object. Don’t get sucked into chasing the market, but do what you desire. As if money were no object…..

    But then that’s the interpretation of a moonbeam chaser, and you’ve already taken me to task for my hopeless “follow your dreams” attitude in previous posts (eg, “The unbearable lightness of being a potter”). Its amazing how differently we can read short talks like these. You should check out the comments on youtube to see some profoundly wayward misunderstandings of even what the opening phrase is advocating. As I’ve said before, the miracle of communication isn’t that we agree so often, its that we have an open enough mind to see alternatives to our own interpretations…….

    • Scott Cooper says:

      Yeah, just look where following our dreams has gotten us… nowhere!

      Just kidding. I’m pretty sure I’d be far more miserable if I’d never discovered making pots than I am chasing after their moonbeams.

      I’ll take your word for it about the YouTube comments; in my experience, that space is a low point for both civility and insight on the Internet. (Which is really saying something.)

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