When old age shall this generation waste ….

by Chris Bertram on November 17, 2008


Originally uploaded by Chris Bertram

I bought a Song dynasty Qingbai bowl at the weekend. So what’s so great about that, you might reasonably ask? After all, it lacks the beauty of some more modern ceramic pieces. It is hardly a patch on a high-fired Ruskin vase, from a purely aesthetic point of view. (Some of the more delicate northern Song pieces might compete, but not this one.) Well I think the attraction is this. Here’s an artefact, made from an amazing material, porcelain, about a thousand years ago. Someone crafted it then, and someone (maybe someone else) incised little pictures of fishes as decoration on the inside. They probably made hundreds, indeed thousands of similar bowls. They lived a life long ago in a place very distant from where I live (maybe Jingdezhen), and they are now dead, many many generations past. When they lived, England was feudal, probably the Normans had recently invaded, and life was short and fairly brutish. But the artefact survives, a very material, tactile link between that human being’s craft activity and the present.

Reading Cohen

by Chris Bertram on November 17, 2008

I’ve suggested to some of the other CTers that we should have an online reading group on G.A. Cohen’s _Rescuing Justice and Equality_ (“Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674030761/junius-20 , “Amazon.uk”:http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674030761/junius-21). They can’t do it until January, so this is a heads-up. When we get started we’ll cover a chapter a week, with maybe different people taking the lead (Harry, Ingrid, Jon? …) and then comments will be open. But a condition of commenting is that you’ve actually read the text under discussion (violators will be deleted). So if you want to take part you need to get the book, and you need to get reading and thinking.