Tag Archives: Life In General

Content, Form, Fantasy

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Picture credit: John Holcroft Art

There is no content without form.

Neither is there form without content.

Neither one is greater than the other. As both have their unique roles. And as creators, we must take care to ensure that they play their parts to create the world that we’re aiming to create.

As creators, our job is in fact to conduct two equally capable musicians coming together to create a single piece of music coherent to the ear.

We must take care to not present content with no form whatsoever. For form helps content by making it more easy, interesting and appeasing to absorb. Most philosophy is guilty of a lack of form. So is most theoretical physics.

But bring together a fair balance of form and content, and you have the opportunity to bring to the world things that are normally difficult to digest.

Alain de Botton does this with Philosophy. Or Jason Silva.

Carl Sagan did this with Physics. So does Stephen Hawking.

On the other end, we must take care not to glorify form at the cost of content. For we can build several empty things on form, but they shall be just that: empty. Fads are guilty of a lack of true content. So is most pop music.

This is when any creation enters the realm of fantasy. It is when you see that metaphor is greater than meaning itself. Or showmanship, greater than the show.

In a culture that encourages and propagates this, real content is either non-existent or completely forgotten.

And any culture with empty form, is just that. Empty.

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What Questions Does This Raise?

 

I am not going to make this another post about how bad 2016 has been. We’ve seen those already. And frankly, one less reminder is better.

But I will only ask: What questions does this raise for the forthcoming years?

I have always believed, that the state of a group reflects the state of the individual. Groups; be it teams, companies, nations – also act like individuals. They have the same fears, the same irrationalities, the same ambitions.

A character that is rooted in fear, seeks freedom. A person rooted in insecurity, thrives in arrogance.

As does a nation. As does a species.

And I fear that our species as a whole; at this point, rests in fear. We are climbing back into our own shells, going back toward our own; in unhealthy ways, seeking affirmations and reminders for our invincibility as we see those around us either crumble, or survive mediocrity.

So while we build technologies to make us an interplanetary species, I fear, this is a temporary solution. History repeats itself, and we will certainly be a destructive species wherever we go. 

Perhaps this is a plea to fall on deaf ears, but I cannot ask world leaders to help us become more human again. But I can ask you, and I can ask my self.

Let’s be a little more human, again. Let’s aim to abandon fear from our selves. And while we’d love to clean up the world or crib about how somebody should, let’s start with our little corners.

Who’re You Bullshitting with “Creativity”?

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In my few years in the creative business, I have learned two lessons more than others:

  1. There are two types of ‘creative’ people in the world: those by designation and those by nature
  2. ‘Creativity’ is the most bastardised word in the business

Both of which bring us to the fated reality of the business in general, that we have a creative product that is more a product than it is creative.

At its core, the problem is that we have come to define creativity as ‘original, out of the box ideas’. Ideas that are interesting to us, and ideas we would not have thought of non-creatively.

But the truth is that creativity; is the ability to create something that does not exist before.

We leave that by the wayside and pursue the use of creativity for mere cosmetic improvement of preexisting solutions. Which are perhaps then filtered through several layers of verification: with sieves large and small, and what we are finally; most often than not – left with, is a substance that has neither content nor personality.

But it does check all the boxes.

The use of creativity for cosmetic and superficial improvements rests in a fundamental fear and incapacity for the unknown, the better and the truly new.

In truth, it is the difference between envisioning a faster horse, or an automobile.

But it is reduced to an excuse for having something that looks new, but is fundamentally the same.

It is an excuse for having nothing extraordinary. But just good enough.

It is your excuse for putting a funny, insightful video in your presentation but never changing the way you work.

It is your excuse for having beautiful slides. That lack in real content.

It is your excuse for having a website that invites the visitor, and speaks of lofty visions with beautiful words but is a facade to an organisation that counts only its bank roll in the end of the month.

True creativity is its own ends.

But it has been reduced to the means of being barely interesting. Almost relevant. Spineless. Or worse yet: just pretty.

Image credit: banksy

Faith

I have often wondered; in my travels, how humans have had the capacity to build such larger than life monuments as the Taj Mahal, the Sagrada Familia, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Sistine Chapel.

I’ve also been amazed at how religion was the muse for so many creations of great art and architecture: and therein, lay my answer.

Humans have the capacity to create something larger than life: something that goes beyond their own lifetime – as they are driven by a faith in something larger than their selves.

I choose the word faith, not religion.

Faith is multifold. It could be a faith in God (religion) A faith in love. Faith in progress. Or simply faith in the act of, and desire for creation. The desire to create something magnificent because why not?

But the answer is the same: faith.

And it perhaps isn’t without reason that the word faith is often suffixed with the adjective ‘blind’. For it rests; not in something we see, but in something we choose to believe in despite the lack of any signs of it’s presence.

This; I fear, is what we miss today.

For we would rather be driven by insignificant things that are apparent. Than significant things; that though invisible to the naked eye, we can create everyday.

Speak, beautifully

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“And a poet said. Speak to us of Beauty. 
And he answered:
Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?”

– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Whatever happened to saying things beautifully?

It doesn’t appear that language alone, has taken a turn for the worse. Rather, communication as a whole.

We don’t believe in people being gorgeous or beautiful anymore. They’ve been reduced to ten point scales.

Nobody is exhaustedThey are very tired. 

Poetry has made way for the bullet point.

While penmanship has made way for words on a jpeg.

Beliefs and fortitudes have been bastardised to hashtags.

Truth be told, the things we express, and how we choose to express them are no less than art.

In each note, stroke and syllable, lies the power to transmit beauty, pain, wisdom and emotion from one soul to another.

No, not just one man to another. Rather, a truly metaphysical transfer of intangible concepts from one transient mind to another. Wherein lies the capacity for so many things to be said, simply by being unsaid.

Yes, that power. To change minds. Change perceptions. Even time.

Whatever happened to using that power, wisely?

Illustration by Kahlil Gibran Source

Why I ask people “Are you happy?”

The other day at a party I met an acquaintance after a long time. Since our last meeting, she had started in a new job and about it, I asked her “So, are you happy?”.

It was pointed out to me as being a rather unusual question, and I realised that it was something I asked most people when we spoke about their jobs. Or lives in general. (I also found it interesting that perhaps the most important question has been deemed unusual)

Nonetheless, I asked myself why I do it, and I realised that very often we tend to make small problems worse than they are. We always start with a “Yeah it’s great ..” and we trail off toward the ominous “but …”

“.. the hours are really bad”, “.. the pay could be better”, “.. I am not sure how much longer I would stick around”

Asking what appears to be the most overarching question, simplifies it. A question that is perhaps, too simplified, that forces anyone to distill their thoughts down to the essence. Not only that, it also makes people think about what they actually like about their reality. It reframes the question from “What’s not working?”, to “So, what’s working?”

And what I have discovered, interestingly enough is that most people will say “Yes, I am happy”. Perhaps it is because when we are asked to think about our own happiness, from the larger perspective, we conclude that the smaller problems aren’t so bad after all.

The problems are more discomforts, than challenges. Or they rank lower in the priorities as to actually disturb happiness.

Furthermore, the few people who say “No”, aren’t bogged down by the little discomforts, rather by real personal challenges: their health, careers (not ‘jobs’) their relationships, or their spiritual and mental well-being.

Perhaps then, we should spend our time focusing on those important things.