In the book Art & Fear, authors David Bales and Ted Orland describe a ceramics class in which half of the students were asked to focus only on producing a high quantity of work while the other half was tasked with producing work of high quality. For a grade at the end of the term, the “quantity” group’s pottery would be weighed, and fifty pounds of pots would automatically get an A, whereas the “quality” group only needed to turn in one—albeit perfect—piece. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. The other half of the class spent most of the semester paralyzed by theorizing about perfection, which sounded disconcertingly familiar to me—like all my cases of writer’s block.
The political act of making dinner often means stepping away from convenience. Sometimes it means we cook our own damn chicken, thank you very much, or we make our own jam or we grow our own tomatoes. We do this because eating is casting a vote, and we refuse to vote for brightly colored boxes of frozen soy-corn-chicken sculpture or federal corn syrup subsidies or tomatoes picked by virtual slaves in Florida.
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted & changed by human beings. Resistance & change often begin in art... The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin
“[I]t may be wiser to try to create the place you want to live, rather than to keep trying to find it.”
it is troubling how many people expect applause, recognition, when they have not even begun to learn an art or a craft. Instant success is the order of the day ... I wonder whether this is not part of our corruption by machines. Machines do things very quickly and outside the natural rhythm of life ... So the few things that we still do, such as cooking, knitting, gardening, anything at all that cannot be hurried, have a very particular value.