Monday, March 10, 2008
And another thing
Recently I had the experience of centering clay on a potter's wheel for the first time. It was remarkable: the clay feels all wobbly going around, and then all of a sudden it doesn't. Bam, it's still. Now, we know from M. C. Richards that this is a metaphor for everything. Fine. But the point is, it's not just a metaphor. I told a friend about it and I commented on how nice it is that with everything that involves grace, there's a sweet spot. But it's not just with movement that this is so. It's the same with writing, too. And humor. The thing that is interesting about the regular sweet spot, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's a physical instance of the way in which things that are good, aesthetically, don't have the fingerprints of self all over them. They may well bear the mark of the author or creator's style, but within those characteristic parameters, the person's self doesn't intrude. When it does, it's like a note played or sung off key. What is it that makes it be that that's the way things are? That the world as we experience it seems to be structured on all fronts by this aesthetic requirement that the capacities of self be applied in such a way that they dissolves into, and/or are subject to the form of, the activity or object toward which they are directed? I think that this is what Aristotle and Plato both think the divine is: something like the laws of beauty. I don't mean prettiness. I don't know if I agree, but I'm pretty sure that I think that there's something to the felt objectivity of the requirement.