Monday, June 09, 2008

I am visiting my Mom, and reflecting on the objects that surround me. The grandfather clock is ticking as it has for over 100 years.

My mother's home is full of objects collected by my great Aunt Allene, finely crafted antique furniture and glassware. The dining set is mahogany and had belonged to a governor of Iowa. My own interest in furniture making started here, inspired by these things. Scattered amidst the finer things are the art projects that my sisters and I made, things made by my mother in her earlier years, and then there are things that fit the category "cute." Many of these objects were hand-made in China, and bought cheap. My mother says, "Look at that! It is hand made and I bought it for a dollar. I felt like I was stealing it!"

I have a low tolerance for cute. Things carelessly made, or made by machines with little human attention or practical purpose and that justify their existence by being cute and sentimental just aren't in my field of interest. Life can become an accumulation of well intended but oppressive clutter. With apologies to the Chinese and those who market cheap and sentimental cute stuff. I'm not buying. I would rather have the objects in my own life invested with greater meaning, made by identifiable people from my own community who might receive the money paid for their work as an investment in their continued growth.

Joe Barry sent me a copy of his review written for the New Hampshire Craftsman's Guild Newsletter of Richard Sennett's book, The Craftsman published by Yale University Press. He notes that one of the important things offered in the book is the 10,000 hour rule that one must often invest 10,000 hours in practice to gain mastery of a skill or craft. Whether or not that is true is something that can only be measured in one's own experience, but even if only half right, that means that it takes making or doing a great deal of stuff to get good, and we don't start out doing our very best work. I had some rude and sarcastic comments posted to the blog accusing me of logorrhea, and because I have the right to reject comments intended to be rude or insulting, I chose not to publish the remarks. Anyone can think I am stupid if they wish, but what I would ask before they condemn is that they invest the 10,000 hours in the practice of something. Making or writing, maybe. I'll try to be less wordy, and I would ask that critics be kind, or if not kind, then at least tolerant, and I will continue to write for those faithful readers who are less harsh in their judgment.

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