The Yijing 易經 or “Book of Change” is one of China’s oldest books and a corner stone of Chinese philosophy. It tells us how to understand change, how to find out what kind of change we are in right now, and how to deal with it.
It is also very strange.
Let’s see how it works!
The underlying principle of the Yijing is that there is order in change — not just senseless movement. In its purest form change is the alternation between two extremes.
How can we tell what is real and what isn’t? Ludwig Wittgenstein said that it was all about language. If we want to understand what we can know, then we must look at how language works.
So he wrote two very different books on how we use language to think.
At first sight the Tractatus is as terrifying as its title. But the core idea is quite simple: Our sentences are pictures of the world.
Why do some images support a text better than others? Let’s start with a quick example:
Creativity is the ability to imagine something that isn’t there — yet. Its core ingredient are ideas. An idea is a new thought that springs up from existing knowledge. Thoughts collide — something “clicks” in our mind.
Let’s not sugarcoat this: diseases, hunger, and our inevitable death have been a strain on our relationship with nature. We needed some distance.
We built houses, retreated to cities, turned wild animals into livestock, and forests into fields. At some point, we even distanced ourselves from our own bodies, and considered our minds as separate.
The following exercises are a bit more advanced than the ones in the “Quick beginner’s guide to drawing”, and I hope you find them equally fun!
We are going to focus on different aspects of observation to strengthen our visual thinking.
Draw the spaces in between things!
An ancient feud rages at the very core of your creative endeavour: The rational logical you and its fuzzy intuitive rival are in constant dispute.
Imagine yourself coming across an old tree.
Baffled by the spectacle of its twigs and branches you could reach out to feel its bark. You observe how the sunlight falls through the countless leaves orchestrating a spectacular pattern of shadows before your feet.
Or you could just think “That’s a tree.” — and move on.
Until recently everyday objects were shaped by their technology. The design of a telephone was basically a hull around a machine. The task of the designers was to make technology look pretty.
It was up to the engineers to define the interfaces of those objects. Their main concern was the function of the machine, not its ease of use. We — the “users” — had to figure out how they worked.
The basic craft of drawing is about two things: you learn to control your hand and to see.
Tip: For the following 6 exercises I suggest you stick with one pen and one particular type of paper (for instance A5).
The first two exercises are about controlling your hand. We want to build muscles and train our hand-eye-coordination. Mechanical exercises like these are great for beginners. Later on you might use them to explore new pens or get started when you don’t know what to draw yet.
They are also terrific ways to relax your mind.
Distribute circles of various…
Some drawings look fresh and alive while others … don’t. What is their secret? Let’s look at cameras first.
This is what happens when you take a photograph: The light rays of your environment project a picture on a photo sensor. This picture is then stored on a hard drive. It’s a recording process, straightforward and linear.
Many creatives know this phenomenon: They start a new project on a promising topic with excitement, but when they can’t come up with an original idea instantly — they lose interest. They come to the conclusion that they picked the wrong topic. So they restart with a new topic, only to find out that the grass isn’t any greener on that side of the fence either.
Where do these commitment issues come from?
Coming up with new ideas is all about persistence. Here is a geological profile of the creative process: