I rediscovered this passage today in "Hamada: Potter" by Leach and I thought I'd share, given all of the talk of hakeme lately. It's also a little relevant to Chris Campbell's post on Image Envy, I think. Pages 112, 113, from the 1975 edition (first edition).
I like hakeme. I have tried my hand many times and I always feel defeated and give up, although I know it is not a matter of winning or losing. It is strange that every time I visit Korea and view the buildings in the countryside and the people flocking to the markets on special days and then return to Japan, I notice that my hakeme becomes much easier, although my stay in Korea had nothing to do with hakeme.
The Koreans did it because the slip flaked off when they dipped the pot in white slip. They pressed the slip into the clay with a brush--they never talked about hakeme, the did not have such a work; all they did was to make sure the white slip was sticking onto the clay. The preferred the whiter colour to the dark clay body. But the Japanese then took it up as a self-conscious technique and gave it a name. They began to make use of it as a pattern, and this is where they went wrong. They even went so far in their efforts for achievement as to take the pot to a Zen master in a monastery, thinking he had no greed or self-consciousness. They had the brushstrokes put on by the Zen master and then sold the bowl for a higher price. This was indeed a disease and a mistake from the very beginning, but this is the direction in which many Japanese go. For instance, in the early pots there would be some impurities in the clay as well as small pebbles. In the firing, the surface of the pot would burst open like a raisin in a bun, leaving a big hole around the pebble. This also became appreciated by the Japanese, but instead of letting it happen naturally, when they received an order from a patron they put some pebbles into their clay. The pot would then have higher value. This is a sort of illness--they purposefully put pebbles into highly refined clay.
I'd love to hear what you guys think about this passage. Reading through it again, it leapt out at me.