Ladies and gentlehumans, it’s time once again for a stream of consciousness – a magical mystery tour guided only by the whims of my own mental meanderings and unfettered by the tyranny of grammar guardians or belletristic babysitters.
This time out, the magic carpet ride will take us through the subjects of creative exploration, Western society’s dichotomic attitude toward the individual and what can be found when we venture beyond the “observable universe.”
I’ve always loved the phrase “the observable universe.” Astronomers and other assorted propeller-heads use the phrase to describe the universe we can measure and view with our current technology.
I’ve always loved it because of the implication it offers: “Observable” tells me that there’s more out there – we just can’t yet see it. That will be an adventure for future generations, armed with technologies, techniques and hairstyles far beyond our wildest imaginings.
Interestingly, the creatively-coiffed explorers who will navigate and build this brave new world are likely to face some rather unusual challenges – many of them completely unrelated to their field.
Allow me to explain in my delightfully roundabout but strangely compelling way.
We’ve been culturally habituated, trained and conditioned to believe that “one” is something to be avoided.
We murmur nervously about the lone wolf.
Singers croon about how “one is the loneliest number.”
Business-humans decry the dreadful degenerates who refuse to be “team players.”
Humans (particularly of the female flavour) who have the audacity to remain single by choice are viewed as something just short of diseased, or at least, “damaged” in some manner.
And yet… 21st century society also praises the rebels, the iconoclasts and those anarchistic agent-provocateurs who eschew the mindless migration of the masses and blaze their own trails through life.
This antithetical approach is so pervasive in our modern culture that it threatens to unseat one’s reason.
While I do not believe myself to be the purveyor of any Great Big Truths, I do often make use of Occam’s still highly serviceable Razor. To that end I would like like to, as it were, cut to the heart of the matter, at least as it relates to my own particular métier… creativity.
Creative processes, no matter where they’re found – in business, the applied sciences, the arts – all require the ability to step beyond the known, the measured, the proscribed and the delineated. It often requires the practitioner to abandon established practices and even to create new ones. That willingness to step into the unknown carries with it a fair share of hazards, often from colleagues in the explorer’s own field.
Indeed, even the briefest jaunt through the history of science will reveal how many times new discoveries were met with ridicule before being accepted as fact much later.
- Galileo was condemned for astronomical discoveries that conflicted with Catholic theology.
- A Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis was committed to an insane asylum for suggesting that infections could be spread by germs on doctors’ hands.
- In 1600, philosopher Giordano Bruno, a 16th century Italian philosopher was burned at the stake for proposing that the universe might be infinite.
My point in all of this dear reader, is that creative thinking, no matter the field, is a path one must often walk alone.
Indeed, it may be said that to be truly creative, one MUST be innately rebellious and iconoclastic, at least in the beginning.
Now steady on my friends… I’m not for a moment suggesting that collaboration is detrimental to creativity – quite the opposite in fact. It’s just that, sometimes, breaking new ground requires us to be the lone wolf, to take that first step into a new world when everyone else wants to hang back.
As history has shown, occasionally you may have no choice in the matter.
In the end, if we restrict ourselves only to the observable universe, if we don’t encourage our next generation of humans to create new tools and blaze new trails, we’ll crystallize and stagnate, and humans simply don’t thrive in a crystallized environment. It’s pretty, but ultimately lifeless.
Allow me to offer a final piece of advice: If you would create, be prepared to stand alone.