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: moral dilemma/mfa

updated tue 19 oct 04


Lee Love on tue 19 oct 04

Andi Fasimpaur wrote:

> Isn't it possible that the 50+ year old grad school applicant is probably
> more certain of their commitment than the 25 year old who has never been
> anything but a student?

Andi. I always question categorical dismissals of
any group of people. It is not "PC." People usually use this
term simply to say that those who disagree with them are wrong. It
stops discussion. It has slanted America into a much more
conservative mindset, and the new "PC."

My teacher was in his 80s when I started my
apprenticeship with him (I was 46.) Right after me, a young woman
started as an apprentice. She had the equivalent of a BFA. The old
shokunin (craftsmen) did not like having a women apprentice in the
workshop. She was the first Japanese women to be an apprentice (there
were other foreign women who studied for short periods of time in the
70s.) And unlike in the past, the apprentices have taken over many of
the jobs that only the shokunin did in the past, because young people
don't want to be shokunin. Because of these duties, and the effort
needed to learn them, the Japanese apprentices commit to 5 years at my
teacher's pottery.

When we were at a "before the noborigama firing
dinner", getting near the time when I was finishing my 3 years, Sensei
asked the workers what they thought about the new woman he was going to
put on. Both the Foreman and Retired Foreman said women apprentices
were no good. They said this right in front of the woman who started
after me. This was very peculiar, because this woman I was sitting
next to, had become an indispensable part of the pottery, and really ran
many aspects of it. The way my teacher shut them up, was to say the
truth, "No men applied for the position, so we have to take a
woman." We got to know the new young woman because she came a worked
with us for a week, so she could get to know the place before her actual
starting date. I was the only one that spoke up in favor of the
woman (the young woman beside me was too embarrassed to say anything.)
I said, "She is strong. She is smart and she really wants to learn."

Just because economic times are tough and it seems like
society has lost its way, doesn't mean that we should forget about the
larger goal of improving society. We really need to think about
changing perceptions on aging. Here in Japan, (some of the longest
lived people in the world) where people can be forced into retirement at
60, but can't collect retirement until a later time (I think it is 65,
and going up), many people start new careers at the age of 60. One
person in our woodblock class is an engineer who became a full time
painter at 60.) As America ages, we need to rethink what "old"
really is. Old really depends upon perception. Many minds
become "old" before their time.

Lee in Mashiko, Japan WEB LOG Photos!