#90: Variations on a Theme

Week 5. L started coming to class with me the second week, and until recently no matter how hard she tried every piece she threw on the pottery wheel came out as a bowl the size, roughly, of half a large grapefruit. It’s the case with all beginners, and experts too, though more subtle in the latter – after a while you can tell which pieces on the drying table belong to whom. Everyone tends toward their own shape.

That even masters of “no-style” have their own style isn’t a particularly unique observation. What interests me more are the underlying forces, the ones that assign L her grapefruit bowls and someone else their ridged tea cups. The clay is raw material, pure data, we coax it toward a pattern, a particular flavor of logic based on … what? Some abstract unconscious idea of beauty?

Alain de Botton, in The Architecture of Happiness:

To feel that a building is unappealing may simply be to dislike the temperament of the creature or human we dimly recognise in its elevation  –  just as to call another edifice beautiful is to sense the presence of a character we would like if it took on a living form. What we search for … is not in the end so far from what we search for in a friend. The objects we describe as beautiful are versions of the people we love.

I’ve been saying lately that you have to read at least two books by an author to really get they’re about. One book might show you things they do differently from other authors but two books show you who they are. The same goes for ceramics, buildings, apps, apple pies, ex-girlfriends, for film: Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men, and Gravity all have great long single-shots, but they’re also three variations on a common theme: the triumph of life in a hostile world. Every artist/human has their own version of Murakami Bingo.