Thursday, July 24, 2014


"Evening upon evening, I would weigh out bucketfuls of equal sized balls of clay.
Barbara would throw an item, say, a simple cylinder.
My task was to make many, exact copies.
I rather balked at this, I did not see myself as some sort of industrial machine! I was an ARTIST!
So this was my introduction to zen. I would do a full day's work, then, after everyone else had gone home, I would start my practice. And after a couple of hours she would come back into the pottery, and chuck all my work into the clay bin. Day after day, week after week. until, one night, she only threw about fifty cylinders out, and left three on the table. She sliced them in two, so we could see the thickness of the walls and base. "Those aren't too bad... make another twenty, and I'll come back"
...The breakthrough came on a day when I stopped thinking about what I was doing, and my conscious brain let go of the motor skills. When I came back to consciousness, there they were, lively shapes, not lumpen, but turning still."

My friend Soubriquet, on his introduction to Pottery.


soubriquet said...

It was an experience totally unlike that of the school system of today where nobody ever fails, and 'work', no matter how poor must always be praised.

My boss set me a specific item to make, and allowed no variation from her plan.
If I was in, say, engineering, nobody would question that the young trainee should be able to repeatedly make an item exactly as shown on the blueprint, but in the 'arts' world, we often mistake incompetence for self-expression.

As for Zen, maybe I misuse the term, but Zen, for me, is when my conscious mind is quieted, clamour and distraction fade, and I cease to be aware of time passing, I let something I can't name guide my hand and eye.

Bulletholes said...

In the kitchen I used to call it "second nature". I could have 10 things going, and without even thinking about it, I just appeared where I was supposed to be at the appointed time. Take this pot off, open this oven door, open this steamer, drain this stockpot, turn the water off over here, turn the burner don over there. Just seamleesly moving in an instinctual manner.
I thought it was a great excerpt, whatever you want to call it.