Someone said this to me the other day on facebook after one of my rambling attempts at thought provocation, and it took me by surprise. It bothered me the whole rest of the day. As I stood in my studio glazing pots for my next firing I wondered what exactly this person was trying to tell me. As I worked to put together that next kiln load I came up with several theories for why he said that. Its not like walking and chewing bubblegum at the same time (joke) where you can’t do both at once, so maybe its that you should shoot first and ask questions later? I had so wanted to leave a scathing reply, but I thought better of it and didn’t. Maybe I was wrong not to. In fact it bothered me so much that I was kept up at night, and maybe that’s what he meant. Maybe he meant that the only way to sleep soundly is to not worry about stuff, to not speculate, plan, judge, or consider the consequences of actions…..
Because to me ‘less theory, more work’ seems like a poor theory. If its telling us that there is a problem with theory its not that we need better theory, just less. Its saying the problem is theory itself. We need less of them, we need them to be less complicated, we need fewer people thinking them, and in all other ways they need to be diminished. Its saying that thinking is overrated. We need less thought and fewer people doing it……
As I said, its a poor theory, and if that’s the caliber of theory this person had in mind I can see why we might need less of them. But the key is that to do anything well you do have to work at it, and even thinking well takes work. If you are not very good at it, maybe that’s not a sign you should give it up, that you should do less of it, but that you should actually try harder. Maybe its a sign that you are not working hard enough at it.
Its true that the human brain did not evolve specifically to think, but it does this anyway. We can think, and so we do, but our ancient prehistoric ancestors were all doers. They were workers. And maybe its true that our thinking has gotten us into all sorts if trouble, with war, hatred, and poverty among the lists of atrocities perpetuated by people thinking poorly. But to turn back the clock won’t work either. To solve these and other issues will take more thought and better thought. Thinking may have gotten us into some of these modern troubles, but its also our best way out. Not ‘less’ theory, but better.
That’s all I’m gonna say. Something to think about, at least. Definitely something to work on.