“It’s not often that I make “pretty” pots. But I really like what this glaze does over my bright white slip.”
Isn’t it interesting that some potters avoid making pretty pots? They could if they wanted to. Quite easily, in fact. But for whatever reason they have chosen to aim at something other than pretty. And that has to be alright. Not every pot has to be pretty. They can be alarmingly beautiful without affecting ‘pretty’. The question we need to ask is whether avoiding pretty is itself a goal or the side effect of aiming differently.
If you cook and serve meals without using salt are you aiming at bland food or is the blandness a side effect of some other reason to not use salt? Are there other flavors hidden in too subtle ways for us to make easy connection with? Is what we perceive as blandness not always the lack of taste but the absence of overpowering tastes? Salt may heighten perception, but it also obscures. We can become sensorily jaded.
Salt is too easy on the palate. Pretty is too easy on the palate. The human temptation to believe ‘What You See Is All There Is‘ makes us blind to difficult nuance. Salt and pretty swirl around us and make certain things stand out, but only at the expense of subduing quieter or humbler accents.
There is nothing wrong with pretty. I am thankful for it. But it is not everything. We should not dumb things down by surrounding ourselves with only the prettiest. We miss too much if only the pretty survive. There is more to the world than pretty.
So don’t hate me because I’m pretty. Simply learn to love a wider range of things than the pretty. Educate ourselves to the strange hidden and unexpectedly perplexing beauties that also surround us. Don’t settle only for the obvious in your face qualities. Search deeper. Look wider. Wait until you understand more before casting judgment. If there is a crime pretty perpetrates its that we are urged to make quick judgments. Because its easy. It teaches us not to work hard for beauty. Pretty casts a vote for simple and easy. Its lazy.
We should be thankful of pretty because there are times to be lazy. Just not all the time. Just not now. There is too much at stake to sell ourselves to simplicity and obviousness.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about how and why people misunderstand each other. We can’t learn the way others see things unless we take the time, suspend our own judgment, and earn our impressions. Pretty is a shortcut. Sometimes shortcuts are necessary. But life is not a shortcut. We know less than we think we do, and every time we settle for what we think we understand we can be guaranteed we are not getting the whole picture. Certainly not with the things that seem most obvious to us. They are the blind spots we have. Their obviousness is blinding.
Beware the pretty, but don’t give up on it.
Things to think about, at least….
Make beauty real!