*Fearlessly anticipated questions


I want to write a tribute to my teacher. What should I say? Here are a few prompts to guide you:

  • Your teacher’s name and the craft or art form they taught.
  • Where did you study with this teacher, and at what age?
  • What made your teacher special?
  • What’s one important thing you learned about your craft or art form?
  • Was there a moment of clarity when all the lights turned on and bells went off and toy got hooked?
  • What’s one important thing your teacher taught you about life?
  • How is your life today different/better because of the time you spent with your teacher?
  • Your name, occupation, place of residence.


What’s the purpose of the Open Borders column? To help people find new art forms to love — and creators to find new audiences — beyond their usual cultural or other boundaries. Short tutorials written by expert “guides” will introduce a genre, a tradition, or a style in a manner that gives outsiders a way in.

Can I write something for Open Borders? Yes! If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about an art form or tradition and you want to share it with other people, you’re invited to submit a brief tutorial on the subject (500 – 1,000 words). Plan on covering the following:

  • What the art form is all about
  • Your history with it
  • What’s to love about it
  • What it means to the culture or population that created it
  • What it’s similar to
  • Important concepts to understand
  • Leading practitioners
  • Notable examples
  • Resources for learning more

Send submissions or questions to info@thenecessary.net.

Robot face

Who or what is this Sublime-a-Tron character? The Sublime-a-Tron is an algorithm encoded in a well-aged block of meat.

Can I pet it? No.

How are you defining “sublime”? Transcendently beautiful, especially in a way that inspires awe or seems unearthly, magical, or a little scary.

Is that a made-up definition? Not entirely.

How does Sublime-a-Tron decide what is sublime and what isn’t? Like this:

Sure, but what criteria does it use? For a video to qualify as sublime, it must go up to 11.

You mean like in the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, where the lead guitarist, Nigel Tufnel, claims the band’s amplifiers “all go to 11”? Exactly. Assume 10 = excellent. To rate a 10, a performance (or other type of art) has to be technically superb, as well as sincere and original. But that’s just a 10. Sublime-a-Tron is designed to detect accomplishments that go beyond excellence, into a realm that defies ordinary measurement. To qualify as “sublime,” the work must score 11 or higher along at least three different scales (say, originality, passion, and technical skill — or grace, polish, and personality).

So if I submit a video I think is really good and Sublime-a-Tron doesn’t consider it sublime, I shouldn’t feel bad. Not at all.

What does Sublime-a-Tron care about more? The quality of the video — the way the work is presented and recorded? Or the quality of the work itself — the performance or piece of art? Either or both, depending on what blows the Sublime-a-Tron’s tiny Argyle socks off.

Oh my god, he wears Argyle? ‘Fraid so.