A maker of tea bowls

Raku Kichizaemon XV is the fifteenth grand master of the Raku family. He traces his line back 450 years to Chōjirō, founder of Raku, who made the original tea bowls for Sen no Rikyū, originator of Japan’s tea ceremony.

In a corner of his studio, in crumbling sacks is his raw material; clay, stored by his forefathers over 100 years ago.

Kichizaemon, in his turn, lays down clay for his descendants.

Eschewing the labels of “artist” or “potter”, Kichizaemon says he is simply a chawan’ya, a maker of tea bowls.

How’s that for a sovereign professional role-model? A clear and simple understanding of the value he adds, and the vision to plan generations into the future.

Here’s a clip from BBC Four’s excellent series, The Art of Japanese Life, describing the wabi-sabi of one of Chōjirō’s original, simple tea bowls. (I’m struggling to embed the video in any sensible, visible way, but the click-through seems to work.)

And, here’s a YouTube clip from Nippon.com in which Kichizaemon describes his work. It’s strangely compelling.

More here, from the Nippon.com website.

Conventional wisdom is a common language of sorts – something that helps us communicate. At the same time, it’s similar to stopping our thought processes. Everyone agrees this is the way things are; nobody questions it. And nobody peers into the depths behind those things to question them.

Raku Kichizaemon XV


Image: The Met Museum

10 truths about life – @ideas

A neat summary from Lachlan Brown on Ideapod: These 10 brutal truths about life will help you get your shit together.

There’s a lot of Stoic thinking in these:

2. What other people think about you really doesn’t matter.

3. We don’t have much control.

9. Worrying is useless.

Read the full list and detail, here.

Hat-Tip to David Alstadter for posting this on Facebook.


Image: Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

Command the room – @artofmanliness

As a sovereign professional, you spend an inordinate amount of time entering unfamiliar rooms, full of strangers. It’s unavoidable. You need to meet new clients and potential clients. You need to attend conferences, training and those semi-social-semi-business occasions.

You may even feel that life is a little too long, so you burn some surplus life-energy at “Networking Events”.

The Art of Manliness blog has some top tips on commanding the room. It’s practical, simple stuff we should all do, but forget in the anxiety of the moment, such as:

  • Walk in boldly
  • Stand up straight!
  • Make eye contact

The rest, with background detail, here.


Image: AP Photo / Sony Pictures

Hats for chaps – @GreyFoxBlog

If you want to get ahead, get a hat.

as we’ve been saying since, apparently, 1934.

My own interest in hats has grown in inverse proportion to the growth of my hair. The first autumn rain pelting your near-naked scalp, or the dry, shrinking sensation of hot, summer sun on parts you previously supposed to be thatched will do that to a chap.

Thankfully, the Grey Fox has a guide.

Image: Tom Smarte Hats on Grey Fox Blog

Title image: the Bowie Fedora from Lock Hatters

Downtime: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

2075 viewed from 1966. The moon is a penal colony upon which the earth depends for food supplies, and its central supercomputer has developed consciousness.

Regularly topping lists of the best libertarian fiction, 50 years after it was written, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress wears its age well. I read it last Christmas, it was my first Heinlein book and I loved it.

The best science-fiction tackles big themes, using its blank canvas to paint familiar things in a new light. Done well, the result is anything but ponderous. You can see it in some of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is like that. It’s an engaging story that addresses libertarianism, self-determination, freedom and the mechanics of running a revolution. It has a tangy layer of cynicism, too, that leaves me pondering the real meaning of the book’s famous motif of the brass cannon (Heinlein’s original title for the book).

Widely viewed as Robert Heinlein’s  crowning glory, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is perfectly considered escapism for the summer holidays.



The random thoughts of Michael Wade – @execupundit

Periodically, the mind of Michael Wade pops out a batch of precious, random thoughts. From today’s selection:

We cannot afford to receive some gifts. ~ To learn a group’s values, find out what it punishes. ~ No one is the same at the end of a journey. ~ Eloquent and persuasive are not the same as wise and true. ~ The clock always casts a vote.

Earlier selections include:

Always, always worth a peruse and a ponder.


Photo by Jairo Bochi on Unsplash