Philosophy and the Urn
You may look for hidden meanings, perhaps you can only find the use, the utility since there are tiles, like the tiles in a bathroom, or the tiles covering the sidewalk. They are durable, should last for ever to remind us of our past, where others had been and what they believed, our heritage.
But when we start to talk about art we have to talk about what strikes us as beautiful or ugly. But perhaps beauty has been transformed into something far removed from our every day talk, it has turned into something abstract, a concept showing different attitudes, as well as different individual histories. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. It mirrors an individual history.
Let us then talk and look at objects which are fragile, which will only last if you take care. Look at what Margrieta has been doing. She made objects which are fragile, but looking at these objects from an aesthetical point of view , we have to find other words to indicate what we mean. Perhaps the words “delicate” and ” dainty” will do the job. Look at lace, can you see how delicate it is, can you see how dainty ? If you can , you will appreciate what we are talking about when trying to give a description of Margrieta's ceramics.
We have started to talk about art. Where should we start when trying to get clarity on our use of the concept of art ? Now even this question seems to add more confusion since the use of the word concept seems to imply that we know what we are talking about. Do we really have a concept of art ? And if so, could we tell what we have in mind ? Or, perhaps, we should start with the fact that we admire some objects when we say I like this ! Does this refer to an attitude towards that object ? But again attitude is vague, it is an umbrella term covering different kinds of preference. When looking at one particular object , we may have in the back of our minds a spectrum of similar objects . . We compare those objects and what we really want to say is we prefer this object to that. With reference to ceramic art we may prefer a white tile to a green one , because we have in mind the tiling of a wall which would show that it is clean , that all the dirt has been removed.
What objects qualify for the judgement: it is beautiful ? It is difficult to think of an object which does not qualify for such a description. Let us now for the moment leave aside the question whether such a speech act is a description, whether beauty is an observable characteristic of an object. One answer could be : all man made objects. But then we often hear that this is a beautiful sunset or a beautiful tree. It would seem that all objects can be seen as being beautiful. Should we then conclude that such a speech act depends on an attitude of the speaker towards objects.
Let us try a different approach. We find in our vocabulary two words : arts and crafts . Ceramics would belong to the category of crafts. It seems to be enough to join a school where we can be taught to work with clay to make a vase. You can be taught the different tricks while learning the properties of the material in orde to make the vase and to glaze it.
Perhaps it could even be possible to design a robot to simulate all the actions for making and glazing pottery. . Why then refuse the use of words like beauty to objects made by machines?
We are in agreement about the use of technical appliances in the creation of art. But what about crafts ? Craft refers to skills, cunning, deceit. It refers to finding a simple solution for a complex problem. If you do this, you will land in difficulty, try something else. It is easy to suggest : try something else. We still have to find that “something else” Perhaps it will suffice to have a look at Margrieta's love letters.
If you are in love, you should tell her , sing it or write a love letter. Obviously Margrieta is in love, she transforms love letters as aesthetical objects. Just have a look and you are bound to fall in love with beauty, Her loveletters like her cups are not useful objects although they do remind us of the use of letters and cups. Just try to look for that spark of the beautiful and maybe it will appear as the delicate and the dainty. And surely this is what Margrieta has been trying to achieve.
The beautiful is ineffable, it touches you in the charms of what is delicate and dainty. There is no picture of the beautiful, there are only pictures of objects which will reveal to you that they are beautiful.
A. M. T. Meyer