I Change My Mind
All It Takes Is An Empty Sheet Of Paper
At 211 degrees Fahrenheit water doesn’t do very much, but at 212 degrees it boils. That causes steam which can power trains weighing over 500 tons. That’s a change in temperature of less than half a percent.
Small differences in behaviour can create huge changes in results.
Small Things Matter.
For example — a pause in a sentence can shift the entire meaning of what’s being said. A spelling mistake has the power to undermine our belief in facts. The imperfections we notice on a product – a picture not quite square on a wall — they all alter our minds.
A Short Story
The plane took a while to take off — that can happen. I sank further into the seat as I sank further into the idea.
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” — Charles Bukowski
I was happy enough to be leaving behind a beautiful warm day in Los Angeles. It was definitely time to go home.
I Won’t Be Told Who To Be.
I won’t be told how to act.
I won’t be told what to write about. I have to feel it. So, I’m writing about changing minds and colouring in. Not a topic that’s much written about. I didn’t fully know that’s what I was going to write about until after I had starting to write. I changed my mind the minute I started to write.
It’s the same when I draw. My mind suggests a mark on the page, the mark on the page changes my mind — and so it goes.
It doesn’t matter about the quality of the image. It’s just the fact that there’s a mark — a declaration of intent. No matter how naive the shape or form — it’s the effort to place the tool onto the canvas and commit. Something happens — it releases your heart, mind and soul. You have to stop worrying that it’s a piece of art — it’s more important than that — it’s a piece of you.
The Big Question
Why don’t we encourage kids to draw and stay colouring in their imagination after a certain age? Why do so many older people say they wish they could draw when they used to do it all the time? Why do we downplay the importance of sketching and scribbling in business? Why do you think we did cave paintings when our species was much younger?
Drawing helps me change my mind. And god knows we could all do with more of that.
As we become older kids we are forced to behave as if we are adults (I’m persuaded to believe the idea was well intentioned) but these rules constrain our abilities. We become patterned, conditioned and compromised.
We lose what we had in favour of other peoples definition of normal. This means we forget who we are.
NASA scientists will tell us through their research that we’re born creative geniuses but become adulterated by the education system and society.
“There are some people who could hear you speak a thousand words, and still not understand you. And there are others who will understand. without you even speaking a word.” — Yasmin Mogahed
I finally knew how I wanted to write this as the London flight narrowly avoided Las Vegas. It was a relief to be 35,000 feet above and not landing in that place. I was much happier tracking through the Mohave Valley and Lake Havasu avoiding the capital of mediocrity and all its sidewalks of melancholy.
I enjoyed the distant solitude and the near miss.
Spending time in the US is always powerful. It reminds me that I’m lucky. I appreciate the energy of the place and almost everyone I work with here. And, like many Americans, I despair of the polarisation of its society. Another terrifying example of what happens when we lose our imagination.
“I have neither the time or the crayons to explain why you’re wrong…”
The mass manipulation of small things — in this case us — has dramatic effects. A case of many people told who to be and how to act. Many minds changed but not for any noble purpose. #brainwashed #agnotology*
From this height the desert looks stunning – and completely alone – it shouted at me. It was busy being grand. It was majestic and perfectly lit. It also reminded me of a phrase heard earlier in the day. It was from Roman times I think. I heard them say something about an enemy that — through relentless battles — had turned everything into a desert and declared it a victory.
Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote the TV series Westworld about robotics and AI, put’s that desert beautifully. ‘You have these companies — Facebook, Google — barreling toward AI with zero accountability, because it services their corporate mandate. The better they can read your mind, the better they can sell you shit. It’s taken Facebook a long time to come to grips with the fact that it’s responsible for interfering in our last election; if they’re taking the same approach toward AI that they’re taking toward their responsibilities in social media, we’re fucked.’
“We are driven into wild rage by our luxurious lives, so that whatever does not answer our whims, arouses our anger.” –Seneca
We’ve proven recently (Cambridge Analytica) that it’s possible to take an idle mind and colour it in however you fancy. It’s how we are built – we are programmable. Be careful what victory you seek.
Be careful whose crayons you listen to.
I’ve Always Loved Picasso.
I was blown to pieces when I saw his series of light paintings. Incredible – holding a light bulb he ‘flourished’ these images — perfect Picasso characters. They emerged from thin air to be captured (by suitably slow camera speeds) and now there for us all to marvel at.
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” — Paulo Coelho
An empty sheet of paper — a head full of thoughts. That’s a common experience for me. I’ve come to enjoy it and we all have ideas. In my case they don’t fall out of my mind in any structured way – or indeed that easily. I wouldn’t even call them ideas. They are raw materials. Some of them are way past their expiration date. But I don’t know that until they are dragged out.
There’s definitely stuff going on in there — at all times. I’m always abuzz but the bits only reveal themselves (in any sense as useful) when I get them down on paper. You could say I make it up as I go along.
In fact I do say that.
For all the structure and method in the world I don’t care. I don’t have an idea that’s well formed until I’m committing to the act of forming it. Even when I think I have an idea — like the desert — it looks flat and without remorse — but in reality it’s full and wild — there to be visited and more deeply understood.
“The mind I love must have wild places.” — Katherine Mansfield
There’s a ton written on creative process and method. There’s a bunch of science about how that’s supposed to help you work stuff through — but I can’t do it like that. Quite frankly I’ve no idea when an idea will strike. One minute I’m 211 degrees and then bang — 212. Until that moment it’s a fizzing mess. It’s all try something, see it down, love or loathe it and learn for the next time.
Everything is discovery. I don’t know what I got until it’s done. Joni Mitchell said something similar although she meant something else completely.
I Draw — A Lot.
When I’m writing it’s like drawing. When I’m drawing then I write within it. When I’m writing and drawing I’m thinking. I heat up. I like to feel my way through all the contradictions and entanglements. Turning every rock. Letting the grains of sand just fall through my hands. This whole process happens in real time.
As an example – it’s only because I’ve written that sentence that I realise I’ve considered contradictions and entanglements in the first place.
Drawing is my way of physically forming something out of the energy that’s firing off in my brain.
We Turned It Into A Thing
I noticed that the act of drawing/painting what was going on around attracted people. If you see an artist in the street the temptation is to go and look over their shoulder.
Anyone using the craft of sketching, scribbling and annotating an idea or creatively developing a concept is admired for such skill. And the physical artefact often has an appeal and value far beyond the initial fleetingness of the marks made on the paper.
Drawing ideas as others are discussing, and in that way revealing a collective idea, has a similar effect. Arriving at a synthesised view of the conversation through that kind of ‘live’ aggregation is a powerful thing.
Over the last 20 years that’s become a way of thinking — a structured visual way of thinking.
Looking Out Of The Window
There’s a lot going on in the desert down below. To many people it will be just what it is – a barren and infinite stretch of golden rust and dust. Too many idle minds. To me it’s all paths and adventure in my mind. Every rock is ready to be turned. It’s got pasts and futures. It’s had people go through and it’s had people stop and form civilisations. Apart from Las Vegas.
“I don’t edit. Once it’s down it’s either that right there — or I build on it and in that way shift direction. Pivots and weaves, twists and layers. Usually it stays as it is. I just start over and move on. I used to have a lot more preciousness and searched for more accuracy but then I realised I just needed it to be right.
Water, before it turns to steam, can be used to put fires out. Look at our education systems. Generations of neglect and cynical abuse by a lack of (or worse) appalling leadership? Add to that the generations of those who don’t want free thinking and creative minds.
They want obedience and consumers of product. They want to avoid any heat.
I’ve been able to make the idea of writing and drawing in order to think more open and accessible to other people. I believe the act of helping others see their thoughts written down as drawings or words can change minds. I’ve proven it.
“Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see.” — Douglas Adams
Colouring in people’s ideas once translated through the filters and containers of basic logic have real power. It’s a collaboration of minds and a constructive realisation – it calls on deep rooted human senses and has the ability to change water to steam. Minds change.
Small differences in behaviour can make big results.
My Dream Is Small.
Give crayons and the confidence to use them to everyone. Make it natural. Make it central to all subjects. Defeat the idle minds with play. Make this kind of creative thinking accessible and, like walking and talking, a foundational activity from birth.
Encourage people to conjure with their minds and develop thinking skills. Make it something that’s taught. And by making it a serious skill (again) bring back sanity — that childlike ingenuity — to all the places where only diabolical chaos has gained a foothold.
Journalist: Mr. Trump. Is it true that you had a fire at your home?
Mr. Trump: Yes its true. There was a fire at my house. No one was hurt, but sadly the library burned down and both books were lost. I hadn’t even finished colouring one of them in.
With Massive Thanks To Sunil Bali For Turning Me On To Some Of The Quotes