An Inquirey into Values

Robert Pirsig 1974

” if you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.

the struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.”

~Sent-t’san c.700ce (not pictured)

I’ve been chewing on that for about a month now.  What with the excitement of the election season and my generally  judgmental nature I see it as a real jewel, but a tough jewel to implement.

My attempt to make sure that I am making pots that contain integrity, value and quality have got me in a tricky spot right now.  I decided awhile ago that I can’t be creative and critical at the same time.  When I attempt the two simultaneously neither the analysis or the subject object of that analysis prove terribly valuable.  My instincts are telling me that it is time to hunker down and sit with my mind, try to evaluate the quality of what I’ve been up to in the studio, but I really want to make pots too.

This has all got me thinking about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I first read the book as a teenager on my way to college.  I’m not sure how much of it I got, but I did walk away with the sense that there was a universe to contemplate and I really wanted to dig in.  The value of a life examined got under my skin and I decided that that is what I wanted.

Putting the philosophical content to the side, the style of the book has great value for me.  The author, Robert Pirsig, (pictured) moves from narrative to dissertation like he is taking an easy bend in the road, you don’t feel a thing.  The nature of the book is that it calms you with talk of the weather then seamlessly engages the reader into questioning the meaning and concepts of “quality”.  I’d really like to make pots in that spirit.  I’d really like to make pots that have that quality.

I’m wondering if one doesn’t get there by purging the mind of ‘for’ and ‘against’.

So often I think and speak of ‘good’ pots.  I’m going to try to change that sentiment.  I think it should be less a declarative judgment and more a question.  Something like “what is the value of this pot?”


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Detail from Pitcher - 9.o9

lunch plate ; circa 2oo9

October 2008
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