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The Musings of Kumano Kurouemon


Musings I

A kiln is like both the digestive tract and the stomach.
Feel the clay flow through the mountains like blood.
The clay's surface resembles the red scum that
floats on flooded rice paddies.
Searching for good clay is like a medical procedure.
Natural ash glaze looks like the wriggling of worms in summer.
Without realizing it you fire a kiln the way you ate as a child.

Musings II 

That Which Melts Everything

I think of little else except fire. Fire is not a liquid, not a gas, and not a solid, and that in itself is astounding. When you throw something against a wall, it bounces back to you. If it is a liquid, it scatters to both sides, left and right. Now imagine how fire circles around to your backside. That tells you that it is alive. Think of a forest fire; it doesn't burn straight up, but instead branches to the sides, mocking our instincts.

I see fire as an amorphous being, one that can change into any shape, is very alive, and fears nothing. In a small confine like a kiln it reveals its true power and essence, rushing to the openings to suck in oxygen.

The law of the jungle obtains in the kiln, and strong fire consumes weak fire. Not satisfied with just the air around it, fire greedily attacks the oxygen in the clay, like an insatiable little demon. In fact, it transforms the moisture in the soil underlying the kiln into oxygen. The sound of the battle between large and small fires is like teeth grinding, and we can also hear the fire laughing at us for our timidity, and our egos, shouting, "How ridiculous you are!"

Fire melts everything, including minerals and human intelligence, and allows us to experience from time to time the joy of rebirth. It has been 25 years since I entered this world of fire, a world all dark, totally red, and completely white. How I value its purity!

September 2002  

   Other writings:

Kumano's Philosophy
The Bear Revisited
Kumano's German Tour

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