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patting oneself on the back: master, artist

updated sat 26 aug 06


Lili Krakowski on fri 25 aug 06

Admittedly a word can have several meanings at once, and the meaning can
change over time.

So we have the word "master", which, as has been pointed out, describes a
number of things, and I am sure the general culture has something to do with
it. From medieval times, from the guild system, the master was an
accomplished craftsman who employed others--some good craftsmen in their own
right, but without the funds, or backing to set up on their own, others
apprentices who were there to learn the craft. The word came to mean an
accomplished craftsman regardless of whether he employed others or not.
And there was the concurrent meaning of "owner"--as the master of a ship,
the master of an estate.

Mistress has a similar meaning of being the owner or the one in charge.
From being a kinda compliment--"Oh mistress mine, where art thou roaming"
and like that, it came to mean a kept woman....But the being in charge
meaning was kept as in "school mistress"

Thereby hangs a tale. We spoke French at home when I was a young child.
Meanwhile my father was taking Spanish lessons--I really have no idea why,
he had NO gift for languages, while my mother could speak anything like a
native after a week! However. We children only ate with our parents on the
Sabbath. Fine. One Sabbath then, when my parents had company, mind you,
and had caught up on what my father was learning in Spanish class, and gone
on to better things, my seven year old mind prompted me to ask: "Combien
d'enfants a ta maitresse?" (How many children does your mistress have?)
!!!!!! Wish you could'a been there!

In many traditions Master is something else, and I think when one speaks of
a pottery master, nowadays, an anything master, one means someone who has
gone beyond skill, and beyond teaching. I think teachers tell us what to
do, and masters show us how to be. In that sense there are Hassidic
Masters, Zen Masters and so on. And I certainly think Pottery Masters are
in that group.

As to Artist--well Vince has argued his viewpoint many times, as I have
argued mine, which is the same as Fred's. "Artist" should remain an
honorific, something to look forward to (like Master) something bestowed on
one, not self-awarded. Yet I think , Fred, we are swimming against a
current....There seems to be a downward, devaluing trend in the culture, and
words get caught up in it.
I am now waiting for "Saint" to join the crowd-- All this is depressing,
because how will we be able to praise the truly meritorious when all
"titles" have become mere names?

Lili Krakowski
Be of good courage

Elizabeth Priddy on fri 25 aug 06

All this is
because how will we be able to praise the truly
meritorious when all
"titles" have become mere names?

Putting this limitation on descriptive english words
in common usage today and toward the audience of a
common speaker of the language, not a linguist:

So tell me how, darling Lili, are we to refer to
ourselves in a meaningful way once we are accomplished
past the point of mere prificiency and on to mastery?

So as to indicate on business cards and professional
materials that we can get the job done for you.


I know what you are, but what am I to people who don't
know me or my work but are looking for an artist or
seriously qualified potter up to most any task,
including teaching. As in going to the local business
club or Rotary meet and greet and getting in the thick
of it. Business, not going to the dance.

For those among you so eager to take the words away,
you are then placed with the task of providing others
to fill the void you leave behind.

Because if you take a way artist and master all I am
left with is potter and it is inadequate to
distinguish me as a business force from those that
cannot do what I can.



Elizabeth Priddy

Beaufort, NC - USA

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