200th post ‘State of the Blog’ Address

200 posts seems kind of momentous, in a numerological sense. Perhaps I should do something different to commemorate the event. Maybe its time to assess where I am with this adventure, where I’ve been, and where I think I’m heading. Maybe that’s the thing I’ve left until now to do. Maybe that’s the right thing to devote this post to…..

And so without further ado, here’s my State of the Blog Address:

Hi all!

Thanks for checking in! I am ever delighted that actual human beings occasionally find something of interest here (The spam bots certainly have a great time). Somehow that still adds motivation to what essentially is an echo chamber of me trying to figure things out. Putting the thoughts into words helps trace the path, and putting the words out there forces me to commit to a line of investigation. Plus, occasionally I get stellar feedback from real live human beings. I am a firm believer in sharing the good things, the things that make us better. And I firmly believe that thinking through difficult and challenging issues is not a waste of time.

When I started there were a number of potter bloggers who were already paving the way forward: Michael Kline over at Sawdust and Dirt, Emily Murphy over at Pottery Blog, Scott Cooper at This Week at Saint Earth, Ron Philbeck at Ron Philbeck Pottery, and Brandon Phillips at Support You Local Potter among the all-star cast to put deep thoughts down on their public platforms. At best I think I’ve only come up acres short on the good digging they’ve done in their time. Unfortunately, however, besides Scott those others have now mostly abandoned blogging and their public wisdom is confined to tiny tweets on twitter and micro status updates on facebook. I sometimes get the sense that the potter community has moved beyond serious blogging, that Scott and I are the hold outs of a bygone era….

It took me a long time to think a blog was something I should do. But after participating in the incredible exchange on Kristen Keiffer’s blog concerning ‘Signature Style’ I think I realized that there was potential for serious discussion on serious topics in a blog format. And although Scott’s blog TW@SE doesn’t do comments, he and I had forged a friendship in private emails where we knocked around some of the ideas that were plaguing us and which Scott often shared in his posts. It is only with his encouragement that I was able to see myself opening a forum for art related ideas under my own name. If anyone is to blame for these rambling discourses, blame Scott. Seriously! (Not really!)

So my blog started as an attempt to get ideas out in the public that I thought were being ignored or thought about in unprofitable ways. Maybe this is the only thing that three years of Philosophy grad school was good for. Somehow when I see ideas that need the light of day, or untruths that should be exposed, any injustice that harms potters and other artists, I feel inclined to put on my thinking cap, open my big mouth, and say something. There is plenty that is wrong with the world, and there is plenty that our casual face value understanding of issues is mistaken about. “What bothers you about the world? What do you want to fix?” That was my motivation moving forward.

And it has been gratifying to see that even my off the wall and outlandish takes on issues does occasionally resonate with some folks. Often I feel like I’m swimming against the stream, and that there is sometimes just too much inertia and investment in the mythologies that blind us. Its difficult to change minds when particular issues are not really thought about, or are thought about in specific ways only. This blog has been a relentless attempt on my part to break some of those ‘rules’. At times that makes me seem like an outsider, but that apparently is the cost for talking about what no one else seems willing to raise on their own…. As Potter/podcast interviewer Brian Jones said in an email exchange, “It’s not deception if it’s not really talked about. It’s negligence. But if someone who has a teaching job came out and said that what you’ve written here, they would get themselves into some hot water.”

Maybe its only lunacy or dumb courage that makes me want to stand up and pick at scabs, poke sticks at the coiling snakes of tricky problems, and howl at the moon. Regardless, its nice to know that I occasionally have company on this trail of ‘madness’ and unconventional provocation.

As lady Gaga says, “When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.” I don’t want this blog to just be a ‘safe’ place, where tame ideas linger. And that insures that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I was once asked to never again mention the name of a potter who found my ideas too challenging. I sincerely apologize for that. Just the other day I noticed that someone unsubscribed from the blog. I’m sorry that it disappointed them in whatever way it did. But if I remain true to my calling there will always be folks that turn away. Mostly I assume folks are generally bored with my rambling dissection of perilous ideas and flagrant tangents. And that’s okay too….

We don’t always have the opportunity or luxury of thinking about issues. Quite often we’ve never been encouraged, or simply don’t have the training. Sometimes, on particular issues, its hard to tell the spam bots from the live humans. The rote responses are easy fill-ins for often challenging topics. Are we in danger of becoming less human, accepting our prepackaged ideas and not taking them any further on our own? Lady Gaga points out that its our job to think these things through, despite the dangerous places this can take us. Can we do this? I guess that’s what this blog is attempting…..

In the end, I’m happy for the company, but these issues start out and remain things I’m trying to figure out myself. I don’t know the answers, usually. What I do know is that certain situations suck. The world is not all cotton candy, rainbows, and unicorns. There are rough spots and real pain. And if I don’t know what needs to be done about them, I at least know that talking about it is a start.

So, from here on out I’ll do my best to dig both deeper and wider. And if there’s an issue I’ve ignored, feel free to suggest it to me. Leave comments on posts and trail off into your own tangents. If its worth thinking about its worth thinking about. If I have the time and interest I’ll attempt to repay your generosity in sharing with me.

That’s all for now.

Thanks again for visiting!

Carter

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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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11 Responses to 200th post ‘State of the Blog’ Address

  1. Scott Cooper, guilty party says:

    No, really: blame me. I also get 10% of the profits.

  2. Scott Cooper, guilty party says:

    Seriously, though, it’s hardly just “lunacy or dumb courage” that motivate and inspire you here. While I appreciate your attempt at modesty, you know as well as I do that if anything, it’s their opposites: sanity and smart courage. Often, the only person capable of questioning the status quo and pointing out the flaws in “the system” is someone with little to no stake in either. That’s a hard position to maintain.

    (Diogenes, I think, got it right by first taking up residence in “a large ceramic jar” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Waterhouse-Diogenes.jpg)

    • Hah! That’s too perfect! Great reference! I might draw the line at entering someone’s home and spitting in their face when asked not to expectorate on the premises.

      • Scott Cooper, guilty party says:

        Maybe, but I’ve heard rumors that you occasionally wander the nighttime streets of Athens, lamp in hand.

        • Daytime streets, lamp in hand! I’d never venture out at night in my toga because the cops would only lock me in the drunk tank with the all the fraternity sheep. Hard to find what I’m looking for in that crowd…..

  3. Linda Starr says:

    thanks for your blog

  4. I know you. And, as always, am quite happy about it.

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