Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Time and Space

I like myself least when I am in a corner. When I feel like I am forced to make a decision where I don't like any of the alternatives. Many of the social graces you can have when there is space to breathe fall away. A lack of time or energy to take into consideration feelings forces someone, whoever it is, to impose themselves on others. Most of history seems to be the story of who gets to impose themselves. Whether it's hereditary monarchy, democracy (the majority imposing themselves) or meritocracy (those with skills), at some point someone takes a decision and gets things done through force. If there is one thing that really messes with most people's mojo - it is being forced to do something.

A lack of time can force Zero One Thinking. The idea that that things exist in opposites. It stops the ability to understand, protect and empower the subtleties of all the interests involved. Time solves lots of problems. Marginal tweaks can have a huge impact when you throw 100,000 years at the problem. But we think in much shorter periods and in much bigger jumps. We don't live very long and we want to experience the change for ourselves. Big jumps have both consequences and unintended consequences. Understanding consequences is time consuming, and perhaps impossible.

In 'Ex Machina', there is a scene where the two characters are discussing a Jackson Pollock painting. Pollock is my all time favourite. My art teacher at school effectively (lovingly) bullied me into putting my rational thinking aside and tapping into something else when I was painting. My first few paintings were full of emotional, naive, teenaged angst. I would construct the painting in my head first. I would plan what the painting meant and what it would be trying to say. The composition and the colours would be carefully selected. Pollock did something different. He pushed into 'automatic thinking'. In a scene in the movie 'Pollock' (starring Ed Harris), they show him sitting for hours just staring at a blank canvas. Not planning. Waiting. For a feeling. Then he got stuck in and connected with the paint, the canvas and the elements. He painted. If he had tried to plan the painting, he wouldn't have made a single mark.

Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist

The Ex Machina discussion is on the balance between rational thought, the type computers are good at, and emotional thought. Rational thought is about algorithms, rules, logic, problems and solutions. Emotional thought starts somewhere else. It starts with connections. It starts with the way we see, smell, hear, and feel the world. It isn't hardware or software. It is wetware. It makes mistakes, but not in a right or wrong way. Since every single moment matters, a mistake is in fact the reason for many of our best subsequent moments. If we hadn't had that trauma... If we hadn't failed at that task... If we hadn't stumbled... Then we wouldn't have met/started/found/seen the thing that led to where we are now.

Decisions matter. But corners are creations of the mind. There is always time. There is always a solution that takes people into account. There is never a need to impose ourselves. We don't need to work for people. We don't need people to work for us. We can work with each other as Partners. 

If we rethink time. If we add space.
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