2017-03, Elliott Wall, Helping people realize their potentialities, oil on linen, 60×90″, 01

Helping people realize their potentialities (detail)

To achieve one’s own potential is an oxymoron, and the exhortation to “be one’s self” is a rejection of the idea of potential altogether. Furthermore, the role of intentionality should be questioned for many reasons, not the least of which is that we acquire knowledge and become wiser at all times (or at least we hope we do). If we have an intention, then in the future we should therefore necessarily regard that intention as having been instantiated by a more foolish being than we now are. Similarly, if we give a gift to someone of something that they already want, we are serving the less wise version of that person. If we attempt to visualize a potentiality, we are limited by our own paucity of imagination.