I’m stuck in a cycle of deferring at the moment – last week’s post was about deferred gratification, and this week my work is still stuck. At least it forces me into a bit more reflective practice, although my preference is always flow, “single minded immersion”. Yum.
The only bit of Derrida I ever half-understood was his philosophy of difference. In french, “difference” and “differance” – differ and defer – sound the same. Derrida says that we only understand things relatively – how they differ from others: orange is between red and yellow, my new ‘pods’ are less formal than a ginger jar, but more organic and sculptural than a bowl, for example. As someone who makes in series, this ‘difference’ is key in my work.
For Derrida, the meaning of any idea, any sign, any object, gets more interesting, more layered and linked, the more you study it: its meaning is ‘deferred’. This is certainly true for me at the moment – waiting for work in the kiln – but pots I think also accrue meaning from their use: where owners put them at home, how they are arranged in exhibitions, how the shards are dug up 400 years from now. Barthes’ Death of the Author, an essay where he proposes that the author’s intention in writing a text is not as important as what readers do with it, sounds a lot less contentious when applied to ceramics.
If you want to know more about this kind of stuff, theory, (which in a Google search comes up first with clothes shopping, what a surprise), I strongly recommend A Short Introduction to Literary Theory by Jonathan Culler, a fantastic example of a real expert making something hard sound easy.
Luckily, all the deferring, all the waiting, has forced me into those jobs that were at the bottom of the list: so I’ve got a new volcanic glaze/shape combination; more clay and other materials from the lovely Clay Cellar; and finally fixed my drainpipe (lots of knuckle damage from the pebbledash, but a great feeling of achievement).