Smallwood on making pottery

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Joseph [Smallwood], my friend, what’s up with you? I’m trying to get your story out.

And trying your hand at made work again. Fun, ain’t it? [Joseph said in his day they called things that were fashioned “made work.”]

Did you do stuff like that? Clay or something?

Did a little wood working to pass the time sometimes. You’d call it somewhere between scrimshaw and whittling, I expect. Remember how you were fascinated by the book about the mountain man in Tennessee who made so many things out of wood?

Alex Stewart. Had to dredge for the name. Yes I do. Drew up resonances, did it?

Well, it did, a little. Whittling or cutting handy little contrivances for camp life is a different thing from throwing pots or painting but you can see that it has its points of resemblance.

I can feel it more than conceptualize it.

Sure, and where do you suppose that feeling is coming from, but something welling up from within ? It happens all the time, to everybody, but mostly it goes unnoticed. I mean, the cause does, the feeling is sometimes felt sometimes unnoticed.

I reviewed that book going on 20 years ago. It gave me vague yearnings to do the same thing, but I never acted on them, and knew somehow that it wasn’t practical.

You remember Dion Fortune says it’s enough for the subconscious that you “show willing” as she puts it? That’s why. It’s a sort of acknowledgment, a bringing that into the light of day. Hard to explain why it’s important but it is. It’s a good thing to do.

I’ve reached a nice time in my life.

You’re doing what you always felt, just like young Churchill practicing oratory or young Lincoln feeling his way towards doing the thing that would make his name immortal. I don’t mean that you’re going to be famous, I mean that your real task in life echoes through your earlier years although you can’t understand what the echoes are saying. Until you get to that place, you aren’t comfortable, then you are, even if that place is the middle of a war.

I guess I couldn’t have gotten here any earlier.

All paths are open, all paths are good, you know that. Everything has its compensation as Emerson pointed out. Win something here, you lose something there. It’s just the way it is.

Well, it’s always good to talk to you. Unless you have something special for me, I guess I’ll go hang out at the pottery and study glazes.

Go ahead. Just don’t forget what you want to accomplish with your books – but you would do better with them if you get away from them sometimes. And pottery is as good a way as any.

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