Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic … And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky—so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.
— Donna Tart, The Goldfinch
Only the most naive of questions are truly serious. They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.
— Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The disjunctures of film-time became their own, past, present and future running together in a kind of temporal plaid. Events were prefigured; memories eclipsed into fanciful flashbacks. everything was design and converging lines. The last few minutes would explain it all.
— James Sallis, Renderings
If there is an alpha and omega to what I think and write about work, art and other aspects of our life experiences, then it is this: there is no right answer. Everything connects. Whether it is the colours of the rainbow, the array of political ideologies, the introversion–extroversion extremes or the different points on the specialist–generalist continuum. Context and personal preference provide the focus. Often, though, this is time-bound and does not preclude alighting on other steps of the bridge that connects these apparent islands together.
Consider the following:
With all these pairs, if you want to thrive in the modern world we now inhabit, either/or is displaced by both/and. We have to be wary of the fundamentalists who lean too heavily in one direction, advocating vociferously in favour of one perspective only. There is a danger that they blind us to the alternatives.
In exploring the concept of neo-generalism, I have become mindful of the fact that this is not just about the serial mastery of the individual. While this was the initial source of pollen that drew me to the topic, thinking of the multiple interests and practices of the individual, I have become aware of other factors. For example, an organisation – that collective of people – can be polymathic too, diversifying, excelling in many fields. This is what lies behind Nicholas Vitalari and Haydn Shaughnessy’s thesis in The Elastic Enterprise, as well as the latter’s deeper dive in Shift.
Also apparent is the play of contextual shifts on individual mindsets. Behaviour itself becomes generalist. Not just skills and endeavour. In my personal experience as a writer and editor, I can be, if not extroverted, at least ambiverted as I research, seek out information and filter what I find. I work out loud, at speed, becoming more socially active both in person and online than is the norm for me. Then the time comes to sense-make, to slow down and internalise what I have learned; to transform it into something that I will eventually share with others. Behaviour shifts towards introversion and apparent social withdrawal. Behaviour here is adaptive, responsive, shaped by context. A reminder that we are both islands and connected to a greater whole.
I may have grasped no right answer as a defining principle, a world view. But from it I haven learned the value of blending. I want to enjoy the benefits and experiences of fast and slow, analogue and digital, specialism and generalism. My preferences shift with the context. The answers are blowin’ in the wind.
Speed matters. Digital world. Patience matters. Analogue world.
— David Hieatt, Do Purpose
The specialists are exploiting opportunities, whilst the mashers are out exploring, discovering the next big opportunity. The mashers have the mindset to cross borders and apply learnings from one area to another.
— Ian Sanders & David Sloly, Mash-up!
Ideas used to come from below. Now they’re everywhere above you, connecting things and grids universally. The binary black-white yes-no zero-one hero-goat.
— Don DeLillo, Underworld
From the seed of a tweet, a blog post blooms. My thanks to Jo Stephenson for the nudge.
All changed with the bridge's construction. Differences between island & mainland were blurred. Either/or gave way to both/and #StoryShop—
Richard Martin (@IndaloGenesis) August 27, 2015