|Porcelain Vase, by Gerry Williams (height 3-1/4", diameter 3-3/4"; porcelain). Purchased: ca. 1971, from Appalachian Spring (craft store in Georgetown, Washington DC). I visited the store several times during several months before finally deciding to purchase this piece (it was only $20). I wonder why nobody snatched it up while I was thus foolishly procrastinating. [The formatting here would look nicer, but the techies who cooked up HTML 5 destroyed the HTML 4 table formatting attributes due to their petty totalitarian ideological dogmatism of "separating form and content" but not honoring backward compatibility, They should be ashamed of themselves, repent and recant. See previous version of this table: here.]|
In my childhood home and so-called preparatory schooling ther was no conoisseurship of anything. To use terms from Martin Heidegger's "Being and Time", connoisseurship was an existentiale that was missing from the Dasein (these people's living existence) -- analogous to a physical object which lacks one of it essential attributes, e.g.: a clock that cannot tell what the time is.
But after graduating from college, in my early job as manager of an art museum gift shop, I encountered things which awakened my previously unknown faculty of esthetic delectation: ceramics made by master potters: coffee cups, small dishes, small vases (example above).... They were objects of desire: things I wanted, not, as in my social surround of origin, at best: inoffensives (things that did not give offense)
The particular piece shown above is, as far as I have been abble to detect during 51 years, "perfect". I have found no flaws in it. But, since we did not create the material world, it is highly unlikely that any non-trivial, non-merely formal thing is perfect. 2 + 2 = 4 seems perfect: no matter how many times one repeats subtracting and adding 2 to the product, the result remains 4.
From the perspective of connoisseurship, however, there is something even better than perfection. First let's elminiate what is not better: anything that causes suffering or other harm, e.g.: "No pain, no gain", or "You gotta pay your dues", or "You can't appreciate god things without suffering", "Adversity builds character", etcetera and disgusting so forth. Aa Elie Wiesel said:
"Don't compare; all suffering is intolerable."
What can be etter than perfection, not applying to human bodies or minds, and under esoterically refined conditions are what we might call: "felicitous imperfections". Not likely in the ceramic shown above. But suppose it fell on the floor and broke and a master craftsperson put it back together with 2pure gold? Well, then, maybe yes? This is precisely what we sometimes see in Japanes museums, for national treasure tea bowls. Ceramics do get broken.
But there, the added advantage is that even when pristine, these pieces were not glossy sang de boeuf but, to the kind of people who childreared me, might look like rubble from a firebombed city, so they would throw them in the garbage with their oafish mitts even when fresh our of the kiln (such, IMO, should have been their fate when fresh out of the birth canal and all of their social surround with them, but alas, not; on the other hand, had they been properly disposed of, I would not be here, but I wouldn't know about it, so it would not matter.).
In antipodal contrast to the nuanced world of connoisseurship with its objects of desire, is that insensate social surround of consumership of my childrearending, which I call, abstractly, "Abwelt" i.e.: defective world, or concretely: Scheißestückwelt -- a totality of existence with the aggregated value of a single piece of fecal matter, or as people refer to it: "The American Dream"