Curation is the New Originality
There is a much bigger gap between knowledge and wisdom than we give credence to online and IRL
What we create, whether it being an app, a photo, an essay, or any number of choreographed outputs from our mind, requires a certain degree of curation. We are all contributing editors, designers, architects, and engineers of this world we live in; and every single thought, intention, and work we put into the ethos of our time becomes the linings for our future environment.
Phronesis is the gift, given to us all when we have acquired the experience and exposure to all the right and wrong things to know fully how to best create something else, and we get there by fine-tuning our thievery abilities to synthesize the work of others. Similar to developmental skills and the process of learning, creators and their creations need to evolve to be self-possessing and authentically ‘original’. An original piece of work is the curated outcome of other people’s work — We are a collective, and our work is a dynamic tapestry of previously constructed, constituted, and apprehended work from everyone else — A lineage of creativity. A collective oeuvre.
“You need knowledge to create, but you need wisdom to curate.” — Author
Our collective way of being, and the reinvention of our way of being through time, give birth to beauty in all evolutionary processes. It’s important to understand the role of curation in this way, because nothing is inherently ‘original’.
FOEHBD — Fear of Everything Has Been Done
The perils of mindlessly regurgitating the ideas of those who came before us, bears the same danger of static learning without actual integration with one’s own nature and the nature of the times. To mindfully reflect, expand and transform ideas and thinking, is what induces originality. For what constitutes ‘new creation‘, is only a single dimension of a multi-faceted creation that was once copied. stolen, borrowed, or bought from others. And the ability to utilize critical thinking to elevate one’s own creation is what makes a piece of work original — the mental, intellectual, and emotional capacity to curate your body of knowledge; to sieve and extrapolate the meaningful from the meaningless — is what breeds originality.
“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own.” — Michel de Montaigne
From a cognitive and philosophical standpoint, the basic toolsets you need to be a great curator, are your imagination, intuition, and your discerning reflection in what would make its way into your final assemblage of ideas; all the experiences and lessons you have garnered by living on this planet and honing your craft, stem from and ontologically add to this lineage of creativity.
It’s contemplative. Because you first need to internalize knowledge before you can externalize wisdom.
Technology has a critical role in how we can effectively curate, and for anyone who creates for the public (hint: that’s everyone), a deep, responsive engagement with your target audience and the world at large is paramount. The difference between a designer and a curator lies in the individual’s ability to not just possess the methodologies and fluency to create the most optimal experience for their audience, but also the acuity to edit, cull, iterate and refine their designs and creations.
How do we create a unique and meaningful instance of something that has already been created?
In order to successfully curate a piece of work that you can put your name on, we need to master the art of sensing and organizing around emerging opportunities. Self-Transcending Knowledge, coined by Dr. Otto Scharmer, co-founder of the Presencing Institute, and the founding chair of the MIT IDEAS Program, is a type of not-yet-embodied knowledge that has a serendipitous correlation to the four phases of development in transferential learning. There are certain epistemological distinctions among the various types of knowledge, from distillation to embodiment. In this hyperconnected world of ours, we need to harness the power of digitization of shared knowledge, because the flow and diversions of ideas are what help drive behavior change and originality. Delightfully, the four development phases are also one of the core pillars for tantra in Buddhism, to respectfully reference Dr. Joe Loizzo‘s mind-blowing dissection from his book, Sustainable Happiness:
A social physics + Buddhism mashup
Because a quantum leap requires quantum theories.
Idealize. How many different listicles of “Best of …” do you come across? An imperative during the discovery phase is researching the landscape for best practices. We want to feel aspired when we first set out to do something, and we want to fuel our inspiration by reviewing and assessing scenarios within which we could assimilate and build a model. We form analysis of competitors, but the opposite side of that coin is we actually are in need of a mentor whose qualities we wish to possess.
Identify. There are always qualities in great designs that we can all identify with — A multitudinous sea of attributes, characteristics that we see mirroring in our own sensibilities and needs. We might see an alignment in positioning and vicariously reflect in the successes of truly great work. It encourages social cooperation, because, at the heart of identification, we are creatively reenacting and imitating the good examples that others have set before us.
Internalize. This is the synthesis of all the knowledge and qualities we have developed from our learned models. We can sense the momentum we have initiated. Depending on certain predetermined contingencies, such as timeline and budget, we are going through varying degrees of transformation based on the new potentials we are now able to visualize.
Integrate. We are now able to crystalize our new competency and realize the singularity of the creative lineage. The new discoveries made from the entire process have forged a new methodology that is all our own. There is no more dependency on previous models, because there is a new inner genius that has emerged — We are deliberate in our curations because we know it all comes down to the final assemblage of ideas which have always been a part of the collective oeuvre.
The contemplative nature of this process is what moves us from egocentricity to ecocentricity. We can all let go of the nebulous notion of being original. Reflection + Creativity + Cooperation is what will ultimately allow our superior forms of creation to come forth.
At Dr. Miles Neale‘s workshop series at the Tibet House in New York City, where an entire luminary collective nourished by Dr. Robert Thurman reside, thought-provoking morsels were provided from a segment of a comprehensive 4-year program on aspects of contemplative science. The process in achieving optimal action potential for which we can all find applicable in our everyday lives, require the discipline and willingness of self-discovery, relinquishing compulsive behaviors, and committing to social cooperation. It is the acculturation of oneself and a trusted collective, and the refusal to accept ordinary banality which help us realize that, even with the most hardcore autodidacts and the vastness of their knowledge, it all at one point manifested from the ones who came before us and were imbued from their bodies of knowledge.
We must find both the freedom to weave in the lanes of what have already been created, and feel empowered to forge our own path off road.
André Gide, a diary-keeper who was self-reflective as he was fearless in digging in the abysmal depths of human faculties, put in his journal, “… But, above this, there is still a higher state, to which Goethe achieves, the Olympian. He understands that originality limits, that by being personal he is simply anyone. And by letting himself live in things, like Pan, everywhere, he thrusts aside all limits until he no longer has any but those of the world itself. He becomes banal, but in a superior way. It is dangerous to achieve too early that superior banality. If one does not absorb everything, one loses oneself completely. The mind must be greater than the world and contain it, or else it is pitifully dissolved and is no longer even original.”
With that, I think we can now all reflect on this original digital splatter.
Ivy is building a voice+ platform that harmonizes human + tech to help people adapt and navigate complexity in uncertain times. It improves our social & emotional skills so we can form deeper and more beneficial relationships with ourselves and others. The platform provides a psychologically safe and creative space using our voice, nurtures the theory of mind through different mental states, and turns our presence and resilience into personal mastery — One conversation at a time.