Sunday, July 5, 2015

Words

It is advisable to sit on my thought-y drafts to avoid dribbling verbiage I think I will revisit but never do. I know. Lately I have been more disciplined, to the point most drafts get deleted after reaching a kind of satisfying resolution. Except if I don't write it down I forget where I went, and if I don't map the evanescent path I don't remember the trip, leaving me with that sinking feeling I wasted hours/days/years of my life once again.

There is that counterargument some thoughts are better left not translated into words, at least not prematurely, but the general mood in my head of late is, this isn't one of them. Ergo another "I have no idea where I'm going with this" tautology. (And this'd better be important because I've spent two lovely winter-gardening days pondering.)

It's about technique, aesthetics, value of a piece of weaving, perspective, and whatever else that surrounds them.

Dad, even though he never said it, (which was rare because he was firmly in the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do school,) believed striving is what made life worth living, particularly pertaining to one's study/work. (Being moral/transparent was incontrovertible and never troubled him so he had a lot of time to think of doing-striving rather than being-striving, but his rage/disgust towards those who weren't ate him up, too.) Dad also believed though we can't completely create/control our fate, one can often find room for effort and good planning. I appreciate him as a role model, though now I can't remember if I ever told him.

You know I can never not see my glaring technical weaknesses, nor can stop thinking/talking about them. As I learns more about weaving, about how to solve/remedy some of the technical issues, I see and evaluate my, and others', weaving from this perspective. (And by and large my experiences with the New Zealand guild's education and exhibition focused on this only.)

Except this is not the only perspective. It's actually a bad one in our multifarious post-modern world. It makes easy measurement for those who want to yield authority, to mark/score and rank us, akin to true/false, multiple choice, fill the gap exam questions. It provides empirical got-it/don't-got-it-ness embroidered as objectivity but doesn't reflect our human-ness, the inexplicable whole. Technique is only one part.

When we praise craft in Japan, there is much written about technique and execution, and of course of tradition, but also the unspoken but shared understanding of a something else that please us, that the whole is not only greater but when successful far more sublime and mysterious than the sum of the parts. And that if you don't get it, you're not Japanese enough. Conversely this is probably how we learn what's desirable of Japanese aesthetics, of being Japanese. It helps that the language is not one of exposition but of much implication so simpleton like I am never sure of exactly what I am appreciating, but that I have to be in awe. This loose but sometimes threatening nature of our language, (i.e. thinking,) keeps many Japanese from misbehaving, from being extra-ordinary, but to behave maturely, adhering to common sense. It's hard work.

I can see this something else in other people's work; weaving, pottery, music, theater, sports, life, and sometimes prefer the jagged, bent, skewed or the smudged, but not in my weaving. (It's easier with my drawing.) I keep myself in line by pretending to be a responsible grownup maker, in talking the talk. This is partly due to accepting everybody having different tastes, (taste being perception and preference?) that there is no good or bad tastes. (At least we don't talk about it even though as makers we know best what good taste is!) It's also due to the inside of my head being perpetually disorganized and my not knowing how to remedy, or being too busy weaving to take the time to investigate. It's also due to my lack of self-knowledge/confidence and/or experience in being allowed to choose, having been raised Japanese, female, and Catholic. Even though I'm old, the old Japanese saying, "a three-year-old's spirit stays until 100," rings true in my case. Or it's post-menopausal indecision. Whatever it is, the empirical measurement is instant and easy, and being an impatient person, that is the easiest place to start scrutiny.

More words to come, but my eyes have sunk deep into my head, so I'll close this by introducing you to a short vid of Canadian/American artist Agnes Martin, whom I discovered this week.

4 comments:

  1. As usual, Meg, you amaze and delight me with your ability to put your thoughts into words. You are definitely not a simpleton! You are a hugely intelligent artist. Truly! xxx

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  2. Dunno, Carol. Since I wrote this first part, my head is totally empty of words, although I did finish weaving another piece. So yay!

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  3. There's so much about weaving that is technique driven, or mastery-of-the-machine driven. So I can understand your dilemma of wanting to go outside the box, but feeling you need to stay within the technique box in order to do work that pleases you. That is what I ultimately found confining about weaving ~ once I'd "mastered" my loom, once I was able to design drafts and execute them to my satisfaction, there didn't seem to be anywhere to go except varying fiber type and yarn color. And re: your striving for perfection, what about Japanese boro, with its totally wabi-sabi-ness? or that image I saw on Facebook numerous times, the broken ceramic cup with gold in the crack? Two examples of sublime beauty in imperfection. Take care of yourself, dear friend. xo

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  4. It's that symbiotic relationship between material/structure and look and hand/texture and the whole vs sum of parts that puzzle me. Yes. Although even paintings are 3D and quite different in real life, but just more intertwined in weaving??

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