Imagine a university where faculties were defined by mistakes. The Faculty of Greed set up alongside the academy of Narrowmindedness. As silly as this sounds there is a question of how much direction we should allow mistakes to guide us in our lives.
When one looks to the history of humanity there are three major pitfalls that seem direct human behaviour consistently over the years. Literalism: stemming from a preoccupation with what we see. Perfectionism: a preoccupation with what we make and narcissism: the preoccupation with what we feel. One might look a little closer to their own productive life to find the same wreckage. Certainly for myself over the last twenty years as a figurative/portrait sculptor these three black wholes have been my defining landmarks, my Bemuda triangle of lost thoughts (I generally swap from one to another every three years).
These three great pitfalls are often found shared across professions, ages, cultures and generations. Alternatively people choose one as their definitive donkey, or even tribes of misfits waging war against eachother. Left wing narcissist attacking right wing literalists...etc
However, like moths to a light or lemmings off a cliff, the interesting question hangs as to why we keep doing these stupid things. The answer, if one looks closer, is that each of these three pitfalls represents the over arching push toward an object of value: literalism the pursuit of what is seen, perfectionism what is made and narcissism what is felt. What we see, make and feel being three major cornerstones that drive creative projects forward.
What the problem seems to be therefore is not what entices people toward these ends but the isolation of each in the creative process. People seem to shove all their creative energy into one at the expense of the others. Alternatively, some may choose two of them, becoming literal- perfectionists, or literal-narcissists (like Adolf Hitler), leading indubitably to double trouble. However, it is when one attempts to take on all three, to become a literal-narcissist-perfectionist that our troubles take a turn in direction, for what happens with three is the arrival of a structure, the most simple yet robust nature can provide, the triangle.
Introduced as three, united toward a common cause, they seem to hold each other in check, keeping contained and in their proper proportion. A simple example where this takes place is drawing, a creative process at not only ensures such a process, it requires it. Drawing connects the three underlying values of what we see, what we make and what we feel- bringing them together to create a symbolic effigy of something new. What carries meaning is not what they individually project but what they collectively reflect- a big shiny new idea.
Set in a symbolic embrace our three supposed
pitfalls work brilliantly in support of eachother. The literalism of what we see becomes tempered by its interpretation of how it feels and its translation into how it is made (as a drawing), the perfectionism of what we make becomes contained by its role to simply reflect what we feel and what we see and the narcissism of what we feel becomes opened up to the wider, objective possibilities of what we see and what we can create.
Perhaps then next to the University of mistakes there might be another complimentary institution, the university of getting it right....Westminster system of Academia- a horrid prospect as you can imagine. What would be required is the third university to connect it all together- and there again, the big three.
To find out more check out the audio file below...