Thursday, April 24, 2008

Re: Karas on the Duck!?

I can't figure out how to post comments on The Karasel of Progress, so I'll post them here.

Michael said:

In many ways, I think "what the duck" is really an argument that wes is having with himself. Many people felt like wes was unfairly chastising jugglers for not coming up with new material when in fact, my belief is that the video, just like the graffiti of "make something real" on the wall on the way to circus school, is a reminder to wes. Some people think Wes comes off as cocky in the video. I don't really see this. In fact, I see the opposite. I see a lot of selflessness and admission of failure and shortcoming. Wes admits that he is scared, that he has fear, that he has made videos strictly to please an invisible audience or WJF judges, etc.

In other words, "what the duck" is wes sharing an internal scolding that he has already had with himself.

I can understand this view. Wes has recently been at an elite circus school where, no doubt, he has been bombarded with ideas about creativity. The video was probably the culmination of his indoctrination into the elite sector of the creative class of jugglers in the world. It reminds me of my buddies in college who joined fraternities. They would be pledges for a time, learning about the organization, their culture, beliefs, ceremonies, etc., and then finally be made into brothers when they had shown their loyalty to these things. The same psychological process applies to joining a major religion, cult, or military. When you enter these groups, you must reject a part of your old self and put on your new self. Wes was rejecting his fearful, conformist self and putting on his new brave, creative self.

The problem with this is that Wes scolded his peers at the same time. Did he really need to say to the world that most jugglers bore him because they are afraid to try something new? Couldn't he have made his point by simply talking about his own shortcomings? I think this was Wes' crucial mistake in his speech. He should have kept his rant directed at himself.

Michael said:
"What the duck" is a call to change and a call to think.

I can see that.

Michael said:
Wes is clearly a lifer. There is little doubt in my mind that wes's life will be dominated entirely by the study, practice, and questioning of juggling. So I think we should encourage the fact that he is putting down his props for five minutes to think about why he spends so much time doing what he does. And luckily for us, he has shared these frustrations with others. Notice that he doesn't offer a solution. Nor does he say that he is following his own example. He admits that he falls short of his own expectations.

I agree, but with the reservation that he should have stuck with talking about his own perceived shortcomings.

Michael said:
If you are a hobby juggler with no intentions of performing ever, then I wouldn't worry too much about the video. If you are a hardcore sports juggler who really only cares at this point about perfecting juggling technique and execution, I wouldn't even put this video on your radar screen.

That's probably good advice.



At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Michael Karas said...

You made some good points Ed about Wes now being a part of a new juggling "fraternity". He definitely has had to make some major adjustments for sure. As for scolding, he does say that most jugglers bore him but at the same time says that he knows these same jugglers "have it in them" to do better work. So he does cut us down to size but I think there's also somewhat of an attempt to build us back up.

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Ed Provencher said...

I think that fits M.O. of the whole 'break you down, build you up' mentality that goes with rites of passage. I could rewrite that to be, 'what you are doing now (and I did before) is crap, this other way (I recently learned) is better.'

I'd bet money that the message that Wes produced in the video is essentially the message/lesson he has been receiving from his peers in Sweden.

Thinking about this now, Wes has probably given the juggling community what it gave him. Wes asked for help to get to the school in Sweden, and people responded by purchasing his video and made this trip possible.

In a way, by repackaging and sending out this core lesson to the community, he has shared what is probably the biggest and most fundamental thing he has learned.

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Michael Karas said...

by the way, Ed, I've made leaving comments much easier on the karasel of progress. Now you don't have to do any number/word verification process. Test it out to see if it works for you now.


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