Blog > Quantity

July 31, 2009

I guess we’ve just about all heard the story about Art and Fear by now. It goes something like this:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot—albeit a perfect one—to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

I thought I might do a little experiment of my own here, after all it’s my blog and I can do what I want! I’m going to publish something here every day during August. I can’t wait. I’m starting now. At least it’ll be interesting to see what emerges. And it will allow me be more average.

Hat tip to Patti Digh and David Robinson for reminding me of this.

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