There’s an old African Proverb that says, “If you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.”
All of life’s randomness and surprise were replaced by smooth, predesigned corporate systems and commodified, automated feeds through which we received the next thing to consume, inducing one of the most disturbing psychic features of 2020: that a substantial portion of the population could float on in a state of lulled passivity, even in the middle of a global disaster, thanks to those who could not.
In the 80s, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons undertook an interesting but ultimately ill-fated retail experiment. In her stores, she removed the mirrors from dressing rooms. The intention was to focus attention away from appearance, and instead onto the sensation of how the clothing felt, the affect it had on your body.
Our modern obsession with personal branding and self-commodification wants us to flatten ourselves into something someone else can understand in five seconds, but that’s just not how people are, and it seems cruel to deem anyone so simple, least of all ourselves.
But a lot of the time we come across an individual who integrates perfectly with our ideology and overall goals so we just end up hiring them and creating a custom position. This hiring strategy has always worked out best. If you have confidence in their unique skill set and personality, it usually results in growth for the business.
Creating things isn’t necessarily about pain and sacrifice as people tend to claim, but it is often about risk, intimacy and vulnerability. If you are gung-ho confident about your creative endeavors, it is likely you are not risking anything. For me, at least, this is often a mark of boring work.
“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback. If you have constructive feedback you want to give me, I want it... But if you’re in the cheap seats, not putting yourself on the line, and just talking about how I can do it better, I’m in no way interested in your feedback.”
What’s the point of sorting the silverware when you empty the dishwasher–why not simply put all of it in the drawer in a random order, and then pick out the cutlery you need when you need it? It’s the same amount of sorting, after all.
We intuitively understand the reason. If you take a minute to sort the forks, knives and spoons all at once, you won’t have to spend ten seconds every single time you want to find a fork.
The cost of changing gears is higher than we give it credit for. The web has persuaded us that everything is miscellaneous, that sorting things carefully and keeping them where they belong is a waste of time–because we can simply find them when we need them.
But switching to ‘find mode’ breaks our rhythm and eliminates the useful serendipity that happens when the right things are near each other, right where we expect them to be.