Daily Archives: November 21, 2014

Descrete Tea

In most aspects of my life I rebel at the idea of analogue or digital values; the idea that things are good or bad, that blue is distinct from green or red; I rebel against the idea  that any delineation has reality.

So, sitting in the bath, I find it odd that it seems I have discrete areas of acceptable teaware, that I have an integer scale of acceptable attitudes in the sense of teaware. That there is somehow some set of emotive or apparent intent that is acceptable, good, powerful and that the in-between pots fall flat. Rather than in-between two ideas, they seen to have mixed messages. Beyond surprise there is a level of revulsion I seem to have attached to the acceptance of dualist or descreteist values. It is not just putting things in a box or on a scale but giving them near numeric symbols. They violate ideas I hold dear. The ideas are of course self denying. They too are dualistic, digital, on/off, idealistic.

Tomorrow I will start trying to figure out if these values exist at desecrate levels or if this is like all others an analogue scale. Tonight it looks like integers. I know that ideas like this grow legs so I am putting them to paper unfinished unrefined raw and probably embarrassing.

There is the Victor Babu tightness of pots,,so clean that the wind going by does not feel them, they are aerodynamic, effortless to move.

There is a looseness that is not yet loose, it imbibes power and security, a fullness that comes from energy and surety. Maybe Cardew is the modern potter that carries this idea. The forms are clean but not fretted over. Folk pots thrown again and again often get this power.

There is the looseness that comes from acceptance, not like jazz or improvisation, not from over-rehearsal, but from treating every performance like something new, knowing that to tie it down too tight is to deny the ability to take advantage of the emotion of the moment. It is not the attainment of perfection that is the product but the looking for it.

There is the looseness that comes from knowing that the real art may lie in the viewing, that the shelf does not spin, that we really do not think in three dimensions well and that perhaps the mild undulation adds interest, expresses humility (as only G-d can be perfect) that the attempt at perfection is vain.

Then there is the first big step, where even the casual viewer will see the asymmetry, where they may view a coarse, rough hewn, perhaps unfinished seeming, appearance. None of the attributes must look contrived, they must appear as if they just happen and were accepted. The acceptance must be apparent, acceptance like other parts of an object must have intendedness.

The next step is hard to understand. Even the lack of contrivedness looks attempted, it is clear that there was intent, yet every aspect of the pot has this appearance. It wants to be seen as if it just happened but the hand is apparent, It requires skill, clearness of mind and intent to show the failed attempt to hide this. It is hard to explain. To me it seems to be Goro Suzuki’s gift. There needs to be a wildness to the attempt. It is the clear intent to fail at making it look uncontrived that makes it succeed.

There are a few other works or qualities of them that seem not quite to sit on the scale. One, perhaps the most important, is the visual manifestation of intuition rather than planning. All great pots of this type at least look connected to intuition, not plodding analytic processes.

Another is energy. It is perhaps manifest in the intuitive, but is also manifest in surety in the lack of self doubt. It is the trust in intuition that allowed Voulkos the ability to punch holes and tear away sections of his pieces….. trust, a security in the process more than fearlessness.

Cello

I walk to work frequently. I talk with local and Thai friends over ham radio on the walk into work. On the walk home I usually try to talk with my brother.

A few years ago, “Michael, you’ll never guess what I just found.” It was a cello in a soft case, about as fragile as a baby in a onesie. I checked the case for ID, there was none. I picked it up and started carrying it in to work. You cannot just leave a cello on the side of the road.

I work in the same building as the music department and I figure they would be able to figure out whose it was. By the time I got to campus my brain had started to work and I wondered if carrying what might be stolen property to work was dumbest thing I ever did. I stopped at the guard booth on the way into campus.” Can I use your phone to call the police?”. They said “no”. “O.K. , says I, “can you call em for me?”. Shirt stuffing says, “no”. Louis, a bit miffed says, “What kind of guard booth is this? Do you just stand there and get paid for it?”. He says, “OK you can use the phone.” I call the campus cops, and they send some one over. “We can’t take possession of it, it was not found on campus”. I say, “OK, I am just letting you know I have it so you don’t think I stole it. I am going to take it to the music department to try and find out whose it is.” Just as I finish this I hear my ham radio call letters on my handi talkie. Its a local ham who is also a police lieutenant (not sure of rank). He heard my earlier conversation. “Louis we found the owner of the cello. It was stolen this morning. Can I send my officer over to pick it up?” The officer and I missed each other and the pickup took way too much time. I saw the lieutenant the next month and apologized for wasting the officer’s time. The lieutenant said, “Anytime we can return stolen property with half a day from when it was stolen, don’t quibble about wasting a few minutes”.

Steel cut

A friend posts something about how to cook and freeze portions of steel cut oats so that cooking them would not be a chore. I answered with this:
“OK, I’ll admit it. When you look at me a lot of what you see is oatmeal. I have been eating it once to twice a day since 1980 or so. I have never eaten it three times in a day. After 34 years of this I am a little tired of it but I keep eating it anyways. It lasts the whole morning and all throught the night. I have cooked steel cut oats a few times but as many of you know, I am just an old fashioned flake.”