A lesson in humility…..

So……

I remember the first piece of pottery I ever purchased. This was when I was already a supposed adult, somewhere in the midst of my college years. It was an oil lamp that I somehow imagined was just perfect to give to my dad. No idea why. There was no history with lighting fixtures or accessories for either of us. And yet, something about that handmade oil lamp jumped out at me. It may have been the first lamp I had ever seen in person, the others perhaps only being the pictured representations of Aladdin’s lamp. Somehow I conceived that my dad just had to have one. Who knew?

Years later as an aspiring potter my head started to fill up with the mantras and mythologies of the field. As I learned more about pots I learned more about how potters think about pots. For instance, I learned that glazing your pots blue was the easy way out. Because blue sells ‘serious potters’ don’t often resort to that. Its something looked down on. They don’t paint puppies or babies on their pots either. That’s simply not done! Not if you are ‘serious’, at least. The ‘easy money’ seems tainted.

But also, you don’t make lamps. And I discovered you don’t make oil lamps, especially! And you don’t make a variety of other traditional pottery forms that you see in ‘low brow’ crafty venues. I was told I was better than that, and I believed it. I wanted to aim for the heights of my craft, not the easy pickings of the lowest common denominator. I could make cups and bowls and plates, but no soap dishes, soap dispensers, sponge holders, spoon rests, Christmas ornaments, colanders, ladles, toothbrush holders, coffee drip brewers, yarn bowls, and certainly no oil lamps.

What had changed in me since that first brush with pottery? Its true that with exposure and opportunity our tastes evolve. We hope they get better. Is that what changed in me? I didn’t know any better in college, but as an active pot maker myself I had learned a bit more about the things that count as quality? Well, I suppose that’s true to some degree. But does that explain everything?

I have to admit that these prejudices are deeply embedded in my consciousness now. The pots I admire are not these pots. Give me a mug any day, or a vase, or a teapot. I am almost blind to any potential aesthetic value in a soap dish. My nose crinkles in disdain at sponge holders….

But that’s wrong, isn’t it? That’s the kind of subdivision of the world that categorizes things first and then justifies its bias on where things fit. By definition those things start out on the bottom, and there is no possibility of them ever being more than that. Doesn’t that seem superficial? Arbitrary? Its like judging a person on the color of their skin, on their gender, on the clothes they wear, on the music they listen to. Its not a fair assessment. Its barely even meaningful. It doesn’t do justice to the different sets of values that are in play at all times around us. It speaks nothing to the uniqueness of the individuals involved. Its a broad and unfair brush stroke that paints only one type of picture. Its a snap shot of privilege and advantage. Its the best light on the favored child, and shadows for all the black sheep….

So why this hostility to oil lamps? Well, I suppose that as a potter I have been raised to believe that some pots are simply better than others. Which seems down right uncharitable. The ones you see in galleries are, by definition, the pots I think I’m supposed to be making. Overweening pride points me in this direction, I guess. Anything else seems like a sell-out. It seems like I’m setting the bar low. It seems like an embarrassment…. Somehow I have lost the thread of my humility.

So, those other pots will never wind up in a reputable gallery, but so what? That discrimination says more about the restrictions and prejudices of the gallery system than about the pots. Its like segregation of any sort. Different water fountains for different sorts of pots. Maybe we need to bus a few truck loads of soap dishes and oil lamps to Garth Clark and have him explain why these things are ‘not art’ while some other extravagant boundary pushing vessel possibly is. Why some things by definition end up on seats in the front and others by definition in the back…. Except that pots mostly aren’t ‘art’ in his gallery oriented world view to begin with (See comment #2 below for an illustration of what he thinks)….. Prejudice abounds when you know what it looks like.

Change people’s minds.

It seems that many of the high flying artist potters won’t dirty their hands with mere soap dishes. They won’t light a kiln with an oil lamp in it. If they have bought into the mythology that only some types of objects are worthy, then everything else gets short shrift. I was once like that too. I still am, in my unguarded moments. In fact, just writing about it helps reinforce how important an issue this is. Its taking a stand where a questionable prejudice has a hold of our thinking. The question is, can we change the way we think about these things?

Its not as if we are destined to only make one type of object. We are artists. We have choices. We have the power to decide for ourselves. Sure, if you are attempting to bed down with the gallery crowd you won’t want to embarrass yourself. You won’t go to gallery openings in the nude (or maybe you would). You won’t smear the paté on the showing artist’s canvasses in suggestive personal interpretations of what it should have looked like. These are faux pas. Socially unacceptable. There are things that are against the rules of ‘polite society’. The genteel authority that is meant to guide us. You won’t stick an oil lamp in a display of teapots.

But maybe you should. It doesn’t seem to be the sort of behavior that goes against our broader sense of dignity. As a transgression it has more the flavor of unjustified nonsense. But the distinction gets put forward as important rather than trivial. How can we make sense of that? And that some people actually like oil lamps! For as good reasons as they would like any pottery.

Maybe that subversive gesture is exactly what needs to be said in these hallowed spaces. And the shame I feel for making and exhibiting these ‘low brow’ pots is the shame of a world filled with injustice. Its not a transgression against a natural moral law. Its not a universal mandate. Rather, its a cultural artifact. An ornament of a particular way of looking at things. An heirloom of special practices and interests. And parts of the art world are so bound by their protectionist attitudes that the sphincter of their myopia is clenched ever so tight. Maybe its time to open things up and let some fresh air in, and the stale air out……

When going for the brass ring we don’t often take outsider risks. We end up playing by the rules, saying the right things, doing the right things…. And we feel embarrassed or guilty doing anything different. Its the shame of worrying that the color of your skin is ‘wrong’. Or that you don’t pee standing up. Or don’t look like a wispy super model. Or that in some definable way you simply don’t measure up to the ‘standards’ that society expects, or seems to adore. That we don’t fit those nice and tidy categories that have been prepared for us. WE are different, and that somehow makes us ‘wrong’….. Which is outrageous and absolutely deceitful. Say these words with me, “I am a potter, and I am unashamed.”

Good artists are good artists no matter what they make. Maybe all that is needed is that good artists start introducing these objects in serious venues. That they would be shown as having no inherent qualitative difference from a teapot or a mug. I’d love to see Michael Kline’s version of a soap dish. I’d love to see Michael Simon do an oil lamp. Wouldn’t it be great if Nick Joerling made a soap dispenser? I think if Lorna Meaden can make those gorgeous spoons for her jars she could make a fabulous stand alone ladle. I’d love to see Linda Christianson make a sponge holder. And I can’t wait for Ruggles and Rankin to make a toothbrush holder. I think if Ron Meyers made a silverware strainer it would be an absolutely amazing work of art…..

Its not what a thing counts as, but what the artist does with it creatively that matters. Unfortunately we live in this absurd world where pots for the kitchen are a downgrade from pots made for the living room. Where sculpture is considered more artistic than pottery. What do we do when confronted with these strange rules and biases? Put on our ‘serious potter’ faces and play only the high brow cards we hold? Or do we take a stand, and make whatever we are inclined to make?

As artists, why would we ever willingly limit ourselves? Its easy to just go for the defaults, for the tried and true options, but where’s the fun in that? Remember when we were still figuring it out? One of the reasons I love teaching so much is that it forces me to break outside of my routine and the usual suspects of the pots I make. My students need to see things other than the pots I personally make. It turns out, so do I!

And its great to find inspiration in odd and unexpected places! Sometimes its important to just challenge ourselves to simply see what happens when we try something. Not knowing is the greatest adventure! Copy other people’s pots to see if something about it clicks with you. Take things in new directions. See something made of metal or wood and find out what it would be like to make it from clay. Make art just like you live life: To find out what happens next. Try not to know too much about the future. If its only the same as the past, or something you can already see and predict with certainty it sounds more like robotic life than human…..

Being an artist means finding inspiration everywhere. Coincidentally, that’s also what it means to be human. The world is brimming with potential. For those willing to search it out. For those with the humility to ask the right questions of it. A toothbrush holder should be no less potentially inspiring than the Mona Lisa. For artists, that is…..

I say, make a soap dish. But aim high. Make it the best damn soap dish you can! Make some Christmas ornaments, but put your talent to work in creating the finest version you can think of. They don’t all have to be sublime works of art. The world is full of places for quiet gestures. Not every pot you make needs to be worthy of a plinth in some vault ceilinged museum. Most of us can’t do that even if we tried. Just as with any endeavor in life or artistic form you are experimenting with, start out slow and get comfortable making it. Or, hell, just jump right in and see where that gets you! As you gain in confidence you have more license to carry things further. Which is the way life works. The only possible negative in your control is that you fail to grow, that you don’t evolve with creative ambition. Short of that, anything is possible. Stretch yourself. Make each thing, each gesture of your life, at least have the potential for art.

Succeeding is not always the point. Trying to do your best is the only thing you are responsible for. Its a long term strategy. Not everything will live up to that. Make sure that at least some do, and that you know the difference between giving it your all and playing it safe. And don’t simply accept the conventional wisdom that these things you grew up believing are the only or even the right things for you. Interrogate the world and its values. That’s often the best you can do…. And that’s what makes you an artist.

Things to think about, for sure!

Peace all!

Make beauty real!

Happy potting!

.

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.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, Ceramics, Clay, Creative industry, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to A lesson in humility…..

  1. My friend and fellow classmate from Philosophy grad school was interviewed on American Public Media about the Ethics course he teaches at Utah Valley State, a primarily Mormon college of 30,000. He talks about the difficulty but also the reward of asking questions even in situations where acceptance of dogma is routinely taken for granted. He says in regards to at least one issue that over the last several years he has noticed a shift, where students are not necessarily becoming more tolerant, but that they are becoming less judgmental. That’s a good distinction, and the experiences he’s had teaching his course has been a witness to the actual change that is possible even in the most conservative of environments. Its a case study for the questions that need to be asked all around us, that are worth asking. The art industry has its own sacred cows that it protects with great vigor. But its not written in stone that things have to be like they are. We can change things. Change often happens on its own, without us even trying. Here’s David’s interview:

    http://www.thestory.org/stories/2013-04/david-kellers-ethics-class

    • Loved your thoughts on this. Maybe you can now do a similar article on color prejudice in the pottery world – particularly the prejudice that has been so vocal, for years, against the color blue! 🙂

      • Thanks June!

        I’ll let some ideas percolate around a bit and see if I can come up with something. Might take a while though…. I’m amazed I have found the time and energy to plunk out a few of these posts while deep in the throes of my holiday sales prep! I guess when the pressure is on my brain starts firing on pure adrenaline!

        Hope all is well, June! Thanks for chiming in!

  2. Garth Clark never fails to irk me with his presumption. Here’s a bit that came through my inbox this morning after I posted this essay. Its a review of a new exhibition at Red Star Gallery. These are the parts that had me fuming:

    “The exhibition and its raison d’être raise interesting questions about the field. To give this show its due, it has some great work. I use the term “work” because it is not all art. Utilitarian work is not art but design. And anything that is three-dimensional can be sculptural, but is not necessarily sculpture. And where in the visual arts today do you see exhibitions than combine “conceptual, utilitarian, and sculptural” in one show? Only in the crafts. It can be done, but requires thematic threads more cohesive than “Top 40.”

    The flaw in this kind of exhibition is that it presupposes that all this stuff, with no connective intellectual tissue, just with a shared material, belongs together under the same roof. It might as well be “40 Ways with Clay”…. May we respectfully suggest that she retools the Top 40, and comes back with three separate shows, one per year: Conceptual Art, Utilitarian Design and Sculpture? Otherwise we are left, to continue the agricultural analogy, having to compare apples with oranges.

  3. John Bauman says:

    This is a great and thought-provoking post. There’s just too much to respond to. I don’t disagree with a word of it. I might just add:

    There are many reasons why a vase but not a sponge holder. You’ve pointed out what may be the central reason.

    I think it’s an interesting parallel in music: One can find oneself surprised at musician’s attitudes toward music.

    For every unthinking echo — by every wannabe blues and folk musician hoping to be thought hipper-than-thou — of Townes Van Zandt’s “There are two kinds of music. There’s the blues and then there’s zippity-do-da”

    …there’s a heartening and surprising comment from the likes of no less than Wynton Marsalis, saying, in effect “What’s not to like about pop music? Saying you don’t like pop music is like saying you don’t like chocolate”

    I think we might be surprised if a potter from the workshop/academic world of potters (with some obvious exceptions like Van Gilder) expressed love of, and joy in the making of a sponge holder. But I think we might be surprised at just how many working potters who are thought quite highly of DON’T see the divide in quite the same way.

    I think we might be pleasantly surprised that working potters who wouldn’t at this moment consider making a sponge holder are not making the decision based upon some artistic notion of a hierarchy of worthiness of item….

    …but rather as a simple evolution of what they are challenged by, what they enjoy making, and finally, what they find most cost effective pots on which to spend their time.

    I do find collectors who think more about these arbitrary hierarchical distinctions than do the very potters they collect. I know a well-known collector who prides himself in the fact that the work he collects have no subjective decoration. He might be surprised the the very potters he collects don’t even think about that kind of distinction — either for their own work, nor for the pottery that THEY collect.

    I’m not much of an item maker. And as I analyze the world of Etsy and art fairs and I see that I often get my butt kicked — market-wise — by item makers, I find myself admiring the special skill it takes to meet a market’s demand for the clever.

    In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time in the past five years wondering who is currently actually in the marketing catbird seat between those item makers and the potters who have evolved into making only pieces that reflect the “art” divide I believe you’re describing.

    One thing I have sort of concluded (very inconclusively) is that:

    1. I could point out individual potters of either ilk that could be pretty convincing evidence for the value of their approach.
    2. Item pottery is probably the more accessible door for entering the clay market. Probably.
    3. Item pottery is more often run as a business, and that may be one thing that creates the phenomenon to which you refer. We’ve come to the cultural conclusion (to some extent) that business pursuits are in direct conflict with artistic pursuits. It’s the romantic in us. It’s also the natural winnowing of personality types to vocation. We’ve come to believe that the personality type that makes an artist would necessarily have him thinking “higher” thoughts rather than mucking around in the gutter of the business world. That gutter is what gallery owners are for (<—-insert smilie)
    4. Almost every potter I know started out as an item potter. We didn't necessarily move out of that pursuit because we didn't like making items. We mostly moved from one to the other (ironically, given my item #4) for marketing reasons — we got better an making more challenging pieces — pieces that required skills the beginner usually does not possess — and as we did, we found we could make more money in fewer hours if we breached this world of "art" however mislabeled, misunderstood, or unintentional (as "art"). We just moved on to "cool" pieces, glazes, techniques….and they didn't necessarily lend themselves to retrofit back into our item-pottery lives.
    5. In today's market I fear that being an item potter favors the business mind and model. The ability to manage a stable of production potters seems to be a necessary element to long-term survival of the item pottery world.
    6. Ideas still sell better than anything else. If the ideas that occur to us — that excite us and dance around in our dreams — are about the newest most clever items, we're probably going to have our greatest chance for success as item potters. If, on the other hand, our ideas can actually compete with the timeless, or the avant garde, or the "higher" culture….AND….we can bring people along with us in those ideas, we're going to succeed best there. I know both kinds of potters and admire neither more than the other.

    Sorry for the ramble, but it's an almost endlessly fascinating subject.

    • You and me both, John! And no need for apologies! I just love it when these topics are given the light of day, and that people other than myself are engaged by them. If its all in my echo chamber I start to doubt myself…..

      Thanks for the GREAT comment! Lots to chew on. Thanks also for the insight into the music world. I am endlessly fascinated by how all creative media share some of the same basic issues (Which is why I tend to think the ‘art’ ‘not-art’ labels are so incredibly misleading).

      I truly do see the motivations of the gallery world as having poisoned the motivations of actual makers. In so many ways. It too often seems like the creators are being dragged along with the profit motives of the gallery institution. Their ideals become our ideals as we seek to please them and hope to fit in. Its not the way I’d draw up the world….. Its just great that there are always exceptions! There are so many lessons to learn from all around us!

      Thanks again, John!

      Hope all is well,

      Carter

  4. Love this… so true. I will never make a sponge holder or oil lamp. We potters really do have some long standing prejudice about certain kinds of pots. Boy would I love to see Ron Meyers make a silverware strainer!
    Thanks for linking to my salt boxes!

  5. Just found this at Brainpickings. Maybe it relates to this diecussion:

    ———————————————

    Susan Sontag on How the False Divide Between Pop Culture and “High” Culture Limits Us
    by Maria Popova

    “There are contradictory impulses in everything.” Susan Sontag

    “If I had to choose between the Doors and Dostoyevsky, then — of course — I’d choose Dostoyevsky,” Susan Sontag wrote in the preface to the 30th-anniversary edition of her cultural classic Against Interpretation, then mischievously asked, “But do I have to choose? … Happenings did not make me care less about Aristotle and Shakespeare. I was — I am — for a pluralistic, polymorphous culture.” This demolition of the false divide between “high” and “low” culture has since had its ample exponents, most recently and convincingly Rolling Stone critic Greil Marcus in his fantastic 2013 SVA commencement address. But Sontag remains arguably the greatest patron saint of this “pluralistic, polymorphous” view of culture.

    (….)

    As remarkable as the entire conversation is, however, one of its most rewarding tangents is Sontag’s meditation on the osmosis between intellectualism and pop culture, her resistance to that enduring, toxic divide between the two, and her conviction in expounding the pluralism of culture — something Cott likens to “the pile on the velvet that, upon reversing one’s touch, provides two textures and two ways of feeling, two shades and two ways of perceiving.”

    But the part that resonates most deeply with me, as a lover of history and of consistently celebrating that fertile intersection of the timeless and the timely, is Sontag’s eloquent insistence upon the value of history as the petri dish of our becoming — something legendary graphic designer Massimo Vignelli echoed decades later in his meditation on intellectual elegance, where he argued that “a designer without a sense of history is worth nothing,” an insight that can be extrapolated to just about any discipline of creative and intellectual endeavor. Sontag tells Cott:

    “I really believe in history, and that’s something people don’t believe in anymore. I know that what we do and think is a historical creation. I have very few beliefs, but this is certainly a real belief: that most everything we think of as natural is historical and has roots — specifically in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the so-called Romantic revolutionary period — and we’re essentially still dealing with expectations and feelings that were formulated at that time, like ideas about happiness, individuality, radical social change, and pleasure. We were given a vocabulary that came into existence at a particular historical moment. So when I go to a Patti Smith concert at CBGB, I enjoy, participate, appreciate, and am tuned in better because I’ve read Nietzsche.

    (….)

    It seems to be quite convincing to argue that Buddhism is the highest spiritual moment of humanity. It seems clear to me that rock and roll is the greatest movement of popular music that’s ever existed. If somebody asks me if I like rock and roll, I tell them that I love rock and roll. Or if you ask me if Buddhism is an incredible moment of human transcendence and profundity, I would say yes. But it’s something else to talk about the way in which interest in Buddhism occurs in our society. It’s one thing to listen to punk rock as music, and another to understand the whole S&M — necrophilia — Grand Guignol — Night of the Living Dead — Texas Chainsaw Massacre sensibility that feeds into that. On the one hand, you’re talking about the cultural situation and the impulses people are getting from it, and on the other, you’re talking about what the thing is. And I don’t feel it’s a contradiction. I’m certainly not going to give up on rock and roll. I’m not going to say that because kids are walking around in their vampire makeup or wearing swastikas therefore this music is no good, which is the square, conservative judgment that’s so much in the ascendant now. That’s easy to say because most people who make those judgments, of course, know nothing about the music, aren’t attracted to it, and have never been moved viscerally or sensually or sexually by it. Any more than I want to give up on my admiration for Buddhism because of what’s happened to it in California or Hawaii. Everything is always abused, and then one is always trying to disentangle things.”

  6. Another one from Brainpickings, this followed from the link in the comment above to the post on Greil Marcus’ commencement address. Here’s what he had to say:

    ————————————————

    “I’ve always believed that the divisions between high art and low art, between high culture, which really ought to be called “sanctified culture,” and what’s sometimes called popular culture, but really ought to be called “everyday culture” — the culture of anyone’s everyday life, the music I listen to, the movies you see, the advertisements that infuriate us and that sometimes we find so thrilling, so moving — I’ve always believed that these divisions are false. And, as a result of trying to make that argument over the years, I’ve also come to believe that these divisions are permanent — they can be denied, but they can never go away.

    (….)

    I couldn’t understand then, and I don’t understand now, why George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strips, or the comic books by anonymous artists and inkers and graphics people, were lesser art — really, why whey weren’t better art, the real art — than the pop art classic that Philip Guston and Roy Lichtenstein had made of them. Nearly everything I’ve written is based on the conviction — the experience — that there are depths and satisfactions in blues, rock & roll, detective stories, movies, television, as rich and as profound as those that can be found anywhere else. Who, really, could argue that the sense of transportation, even in the religious sense — taking of oneself out of oneself, connecting oneself to something greater, something you know in the moment, in your heart, that every person who was ever born must experience or their life is going to be poor — who can argue that that sense of transportation is not as present in The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” … as in the art most exalted in motive, most revered in history?

    (….)

    That’s what art does, that’s what it’s for — to show you that what you think can be erased, cancelled, turned on its head by something you weren’t prepared for — by a work, by a play, a song, a scene in a movie, a painting, a collage, a cartoon, an advertisement — something that has the power that reaches you far more strongly than it reaches the person standing next to you, or even anyone else on Earth — art that produces a revelation that you might not be able to explain or pass on to anyone else, a revolution that you desperately try to share in your own words, in your own work.

    (….)

    What’s the impulse behind art? It’s saying in whatever language is the language of your work, “If I could move you as much as it moved me … if I can move anyone a tenth as much as that moved me, if I can spark the same sense of mystery and awe and surprise as that sparked in me, well that’s why I do what I do.”

    (—-)

    It all comes down to that urge to fascism — maybe a big word to use for art, but I think the right word — it comes down to that urge to fascism to know what’s best for people, to know that some people are of the best and some people are of the worst; the urge to separate the good from the bad and to praise oneself; to decide what covers on what books people ought to read, what songs people ought to be moved by, what art they ought to make, an urge that makes art into a set of laws that take away your freedom rather than a kind of activity that creates freedom or reveals it. It all comes down to the notion that, in the end, there is a social explanation for art, which is to say an explanation of what kind of art you should be ashamed of and what kind of art you should be proud of. It’s the reduction of the mystery of art, where it comes from, where it goes…”

  7. Dan Ariely answers readers:

    “Dear Dan,

    I love drinking good wine. Each time I go to a restaurant I wonder what is the ideal amount of money to spend on a bottle. What do you do? —John”

    Dan: “A recent experiment suggests an answer. Ayelet and Uri Gneezy from the University of California, San Diego, teamed up with a winery owner in their state to figure out, experimentally, the best price for his Cabernet. On some days they sold the wine for $10, on others for $20 or $40. Demand fell off at $40, but the winery sold more bottles of its Cabernet when the price was $20 than $10. And the customers who paid more indicated that the wine tasted better!

    Uri and John List describe that experiment in their new book “The Why Axis,” in which they use field experiments as a method to look at many of life’s questions, from wine to love to the workplace. Their main advice is that we should all do more experiments.

    So at a restaurant, order two glasses of the same varietal of wine, one rather basic and one fancy, and tell the waiter to write down which is which and not to tell you. Then see if you can tell the difference. Of course, trying this with just two wines is bad science, because you could be correct by chance, so you need to repeat the experiment many times. My guess? Your ability to tell the price difference will be indistinguishable from random guesses.”

  8. Apples and oranges? Or two kinds of apples? What does answering it one way serve, and who is served by answering it the other?

    Dan Ariely answers readers:

    “Dear Dan,

    I recently watched your presentation at a professional conference and was wondering why an Israeli guy telling Jewish jokes is wearing an Indian shirt? —Janet”

    Dan: “In general I am not someone who should be asked for fashion tips, but this might be an exception. I like to dress comfortably, but in many professional meetings there is a code of uncomfortable dress: suits. My solution? I figured that as long as I am wearing clothes from a different culture, no one who is politically correct would complain that I’m underdressed. After all, the critics could be offending a whole subcontinent. Now that I think about it, maybe I should start giving fashion tips.”

  9. I have no idea what show this is from, but it popped up on my facebook feed and I couldn’t help but feel giddy excitement watching Kudrow call out the condescension implicit in some of the language we might ordinarily overlook and take for granted. Sometimes the words we use do not divide the world as equitably as we think. Words are not often a Natural Science….

  10. Pingback: Formfunction | Bisquefinch

  11. carole epp says:

    I’m not sure why but i always find myself reading you’re posts late at night. Love them! So thought provoking. But i’m always too tired to comment with a proper dialogue and debate. Thanks for all you do, and the time you take to spur conversations within our field.

    • Thanks Carole! I love to hear that! As you know, putting this stuff together takes a ton of time, so its nice to hear that it makes a difference. And thank YOU for the excellent work on your own blog! I think we both do our part in moving things forward.

      • carole epp says:

        I can’t even begin to imagine the time you must put into this blog. Everything is so well written and considered. Way back in the day I had a vision that musing would be more like this. A place to have conversation. But then life happened and I’m lucky to have time to read blogs non the less write for one. All the best!

  12. What we call things DOES matter. Here’s an extreme version of why calling some things ‘art’ (the good stuff) and others ‘craft’ (the not as favored things) dehumanizes the latter to distinguish and promote the former.

    “In each one of these genocidal moments or attempts at full genocide, each example was preceded by language being used again and again and again to dehumanize the person that had to be killed in the political eyes of their enemies….. The moment we begin to use special language for special people and special terms of insult, then that’s when we can see clearly, and history demonstrates it time and time again, that’s when perfectly ordinary people are able to kill”

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