What do you get if you cross a handlebar, two taps, a tin-whistle and a gasket? Of course, it’s an adjustable, pottery-wheel pot-measurer! If you didn’t get that, you’re obviously not a garden-shed engineer. This was dad’s invention, he saved up all the little useful trinkets, knowing they’d come in handy at some point in the future. This Art of Knowing is prophetic in the practical sense. Somehow though, this wisdom doesn’t seem to carryon through genetics; as foresight of any kind, seems to elude my teenagers.
If only there was a manual for the teenager’s mind, as obviously I can’t relate. I was never a scatty student, that forgot flight tickets and held a plane up for 50 mins (before the days of Ryanair); or gate-crashed parties, pretending to be the DJ; or had to eat other people’s scraps as I forgot to change currency, because I didn’t know I ended up in Bosnia Herzegovina!
…If that manual did exist, the content would be vaster than the universe…which Brian Cox (you know – the physicist who made science sexy,) explains. ‘The aim of particle physics is to understand how everything sticks together.. me, you, the earth, sun, 100 billion suns in the galaxy and the 100 billion galaxies.’
So maybe for teenagers to understand this world and anything beyond, they must break it down first.
The idea of the fragmented mind is evidently fascinating. Recently, I heard a replayed interview with Micheal O Suilleabhain. When he recorded Woodbrook, he felt his fingers worked separately from his mind, as if his digits had little brains of their own. This too is true when throwing pots. Sometimes there is only the sensation of the fingers passing over the clay. The juxtaposition of the empty mind being creative, reinforces that not only the teenager, but we all, at times, take action without necessarily inducing cognitive thought. I suppose the difference is that the unexperienced impulse and the meditative skilled approach, can lead to contrasting outcomes. The former resulted in plenty of wonky pots but without that, I’d never have arrived at the forms I throw today.
And so, we take our life’s learning, weld it together and impart this knowledge on our teenagers, but of course they can’t listen. They’re too busy on their deconstructive course; so in the future they can philosophise about the broken parts of life and piece together the bits that worked, creating their own understanding of the world. In the meantime, we’ll have to live with the broken bits.