Daily writing prompt
On what subject(s) are you an authority?

Yes, I do like to quibble. I sometimes get impatient with others who do the same, but I am a quibbler nonetheless. 

On my being an authority, I’d most certainly love to quibble. This blog is called Louis N Carreras, Woodcarver, and I suppose you could say I was an authority on carving. But I am just a bit unhappy with that; I know many with more sterling credentials, techniques, and knowledge. And while I sometimes believe in “fake it till you make it,” there are limits.

It comes down to the old quandary in a society that now lacks a guild system; who is a master? This question occurred one year while I was teaching carving up in Maine. “Lou, are you a master carver? So and so calls himself one.” Well, it happens that I don’t term myself a master. A master’s is a certification or degree a university or guild grants. Carvers have no unified granting authority ( and my university post-grad equivalents don’t count here).

But some people tack on that they are masters. Now I know several carvers I’d admit to be my masters in the craft. Indeed, my old mentor in Baltimore was a master with his many commissions, ecclesiastical carving, many modes for chasing, engraving, and so on. Funny, though, he never appended the term master. I think he thought it was superfluous.

With what I’ve just said as a preface, I’d have to say that I approach terms like master and authority with some questions. Who named you an authority, and how broad a swatch do you claim dominion over?

Being a master or an authority is a cloudy patch. How much of an authority are you? All-encompassing or narrowly defined. Do you offer carefully considered information and advice, or do you like to speak Ex-cathedra?

There is something about the ex-cathedra school that smacks of arrogance to me. And I prefer the considered information and advice school. So if forced to stop my quibbling on the issue, I’d say that I am an authority of sorts on woodcarving, but circumscribed by my ongoing learning process and the limitations of my knowledge.

Craft and art are like so many areas. They are learning processes. They can also be like elaborate jungle gyms. I remember the day I made it to the top of a particularly challenging jungle gym as a child and looked out at the entirety of the playground beneath me. My first climb up Mount Katahdin offered a similar experience but from a much greater height. Mastery needs to be considered similarly. Not done in one, but ongoing knowledge, challenges, and experiences lead to an always-growing sense of ability.

6 Replies to “Quibble”

  1. I truly appreciate your thoughtful and nuanced perspective on the concept of mastery and authority within the realm of woodcarving. Your willingness to delve into the complexities of these terms and question their application showcases a humble and introspective approach to your craft.

    It is refreshing to hear your recognition that there are others with more extensive credentials, techniques, and knowledge in the field of woodcarving. By acknowledging their expertise, you demonstrate a genuine humility and an ongoing commitment to learning and growth.

    The absence of a unified granting authority or certification for carvers adds further complexity to the notion of mastery. While some individuals may label themselves as masters, you highlight the importance of questioning the basis of such claims and the breadth of their dominion over the craft.

    The distinction you make between speaking ex-cathedra and offering carefully considered information and advice is insightful. It reflects your preference for a more humble and thoughtful approach, emphasizing the ongoing learning process and the limitations of one’s knowledge.

    Your analogy of craft and art being like learning processes and elaborate jungle gyms is compelling. It reminds us that mastery is not achieved in an instant but rather through continuous knowledge acquisition, embracing challenges, and gaining experiential wisdom. The journey towards mastery is a lifelong pursuit, characterized by ongoing growth and a deepening sense of ability.

    Thank you for sharing your insightful reflections on mastery, authority, and the ongoing learning process within the realm of woodcarving. Your thoughtful approach and commitment to growth serve as an inspiration to fellow artisans and learners in various fields.

    May your journey as a woodcarver continue to be filled with enriching experiences, new challenges, and a deepening sense of ability.

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