Reading Aristotle (ashamed to admit that it’s really my first textual encounter), I was stuck on this articulation of art as production, as making, under the guidance of right reason – a direct and natural response of a person to the sight of the beautiful. And although right reason is described as a natural response, it is made clear that art, or rather the productions of art, are not things that come into being as nature because they originate without a person. While it make sense to me that the productions are not things that exist within nature, I wondered in what ways nature, as a state of mind, could be a material – maybe beyond influence/inspiration that complicates right reason. I don’t just mean nature as materials like wood, stone, clay, but the structures of nature – honeycomb, natural arches, sedimentary rock – that craft craft/art. Then I saw a book I picked up before I visited my friend in Japan (and dragged him to traditional craft centers) and began skimming for relationships to right reason, products as good, and nature in the description of craft:

Folk Arts and Crafts of Japan by Kageo Muraoka and Kichiemon Okamura

“The Hidden Beauty of Common Objects” (“Zakki no Bi”):

The Craftsman and His Craft

“Although the Japanese folk artisan is poor and uneducated, he is a fervent devotee of his craft…Unconsciously, he is motivated by his belief in kami (the spirit of nature) and seized by its indomitable force…Because he was not self conscious about what he was doing, the man who made this dish had not planned the final outcome of his creative effort…What is beauty?…We cannot expect him to be prepared with clear-cut answers to such questions, but even though he may not have thought-out knowledge, his hands move rapidly at his work And we could perhaps say that just as the voice that speaks the Buddhas name is not actually the man’s voice but is that of the Buddha, so too the hands of the potter are not his own but those of nature”.

Soetsu Yanagi

And another thread:

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 10.33.15 PMDr. Tobias Hoffman

And another – Aristotle:

“now Making and Doing are two different things (as we show in the exoteric treatise), and so that state of mind, conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Do, is distinct from that also conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Make: and for this reason they are not included one by the other, that is, Doing is not Making, nor Making Doing. Now as Architecture is an Art, and is the same as “a certain state of mind, conjoined with Reason, which is apt to Make,” and as there is no Art which is not such a state, nor any such state which is not an Art, Art, in its strict and proper sense, must be “a state of mind, conjoined with true Reason, apt to Make.”

“And, so neither things which exist or come into being necessarily, nor things in the way of nature, come under the province of Art, because these are self-originating. And since Making and Doing are distinct, Art must be concerned with the former and not the latter.”

*exoteric: of or relating to the outside; external

I feel like in trying to unpack Aristotle, I’m not making much progress…I suppose what I’m getting at is reason’s relationship to utility (or maybe use) in craft? Whether or not art and craft are one in the same and what connotations this has on aesthetic/fine art (especially distinctions between knowledge, wisdom, intuition, science and art)? And ways of considering nature’s relation to craft aside from inspiration as beauty alone? (or perhaps I’m not fully grasping this notion of beauty or nature either). This might all be lingering and densely packed confusions about tensions of the terms nature/natural and culture in other philosophy texts I’ve encountered.

And I suppose I want to pause on objects and things in the manner in which Aristotle uses them – what relationship do objects/things/matter have? To man? To nature? And in thinking about the ethics of things, can it be the thing itself considered?

autobiographing/moving forward

This is a self(ish) post. It is personal and contains no academic content. Except that it does.

kinetic transfer/transition

I’m in the transition period between MA and PhD. It’s not limbo; I don’t feel free-floating, aimless in waiting, or still of mind. Each day feels like some sort of spirit quest in which I am learning and getting to know myself, and with each day come rituals that I explore and abandon to better prepare myself physically and mentally. Some breakfasts give more energy than others; some times for exercise seem more beneficial to my ability to concentrate; to-do lists rarely result in doing; I can’t work on my computer in bed; breaks really need to be timed; etc. What I didn’t anticipate is the level of inner reflection that I’m practicing – I slice vegetables and meditate, I run and think of my future scholarship, I cut strips of tape to hang pictures and think of the connections I have established, need to maintain, and where I want to relate next. I hope these are synapses connecting to establish habits of mind that will serve me well as I continue on. Leaving my MA program and school (and state and professors and self(s) space…) is difficult; despite all of the good advice I’ve received, the support I continue to get, and all that I now carry because of the program, nothing could quite prepare me for this. And what I’m realizing is that it couldn’t, not entirely – and this is where I come in. Momentum requires my energy, moving, acting, doing, making, thinking require me to do so. This probably seems trite, but to me, this is life changing. It’s the time/space to establish who I am (want to be, am being, what I have done/yet to do). I’m not just going into a PhD program, I am moving forward.

looking at myself(s)

Working to better myself and know myself better, I bought a Fitbit monitor.

I’m flipping vertical lists into horizontal plots to graph progress. I realize this doesn’t change anything I actually have to do, but changing perspective brings a change in perspective.

I’m working to create more malleable daily plans, or ones that can shift based on circumstances without being obliterated. Yesterday I planned to write the entire day (as if that wasn’t setting myself up for disaster) but was struck with one of the worst migraines I have gotten in a while. Unable to pick my head up, writing didn’t happen. But sideways note taking, sketching, light reading, and watching generative documentaries (documentaries on creating and object making) could happen with pause. Another change is perspective: days are not lost, they sometimes change their focus.  I want to account for my time, but it rarely exists on a clear dichotomy of on task and off task.

Reasons I Don't Work





Reasons I WorkI want to be able to represent myself in my academic activity. This means using this space in earnest, and making my action/working/making/doing/thinking visible. Blogging notes robustly, attending and reflecting on events, having conversations, producing scraps of scholarship; but too – hand drawn comics, lists, graphics, asides, wonderings. A more visible (and known) self.