Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thought For The Day

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot--albeit a perfect one--to get an "A".

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work--and learning from their mistakes--the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."

-from Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (And Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles & Ted Orland

Whew. Reading that makes me feel not so bad about the mountain of lopsided, ugly, fierce, flamboyant, and dysfunctional pots that is the sum of my life experiences so far.


Blogger Elizabeth said...

This is a great observation and it goes far beyond art: "Common Genius: Guts, Grit, and Common Sense: How Ordinary People Create Prosperous Societies and How Intellectuals Make Them Collapse"

"How to avoid the decline of great societies? Let the common people show the way! What makes a society prosperous? Why have prosperous societies eventually fallen into decay? Is such decline inevitable? Bill Greene takes the reader on a fascinating stroll through history-- looking at societies that created prosperity. Greene looks at the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Vikings, the Basques, and other successful societies, all the way up to the current-day success of the United States. Greene considers what factors were responsible for their successes, and the same answer keeps coming up: When the common people are free to be creative and productive, societies prosper. Nothing more is required. And of the decline of such societies? He finds that, invariably, the rise of an intellectual class--which critiques what the common people have created with little understanding of that process--brings on the decline."

1:35 PM  
Blogger Patrizia said...

Ugly? Never.

Dysfunctional? Compared to what.

Elizabeth, I am really happy you are on this planet. And I want you to thrive.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Yankee T said...

Your life experiences sure have been difficult of late. What you have made of them is true art. Keep on keepin' on.

3:07 PM  
Blogger funambulator said...

Wow, what a great post. Helpful to think about. Thanks!

3:29 PM  
Blogger Janice in GA said...

This is tonic to those of us who worry too much about making PERFECT work. You approach perfection in small steps, don't you? And you have to take the steps, or you're just standing in one place.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Minerva said...

What a great post, and real food for thought too.. I want that on my classroom door for all those kids who are so frightened of mucking up..

Me included!


7:42 PM  
Blogger Elan Morgan said...

I needed to read this today. And your following post about failure. It seems simple now that it's come together for me, but now I see that I set standards of perfection for myself to ensure my own failure. It is a way of control. I set the outcomes before I've begun.


But you started me on this idea.

And, thanks for that.

3:13 PM  

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