<h2><div class="title"><span1>Chaos,<span2> Order,<span3> Creativity.</span></div></h2>A non-linear exploration of the creative process.
<div class="subscript">The non-linear nature of this piece is a function of the theme of the exploration, namely chaos and order and their role in the process of making (good) art.
The goal of this exploration is not to tell you what is and what isn't creativity, its goal is merely an attempt at exploring creativity through the lens of two extremes; order and chaos.
Got lost? Use the **left menu** to go to any of the key ideas. </div>
Interested? Let's [[dive right in.->chaos]]<div class="idea">When handling chaos, [[creativity]] are the gloves you wear to work it.</div>
Working with chaos is a [[struggle]], but necessary, and rewarding. Without chaos and its boundless energy, we risk entering a creative desert.
It is easy to become overwhelmed when working with chaos. Developing your [[creative skills->skills]] is the key to using it.
<div class="quote">"Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature."
^^Eric Hoffer^^</div><h4>On chaos</h4><div class="idea">Chaos is an ocean of boundless possibilities.
A vast and endless expanse, sometimes full of life, other times devoid of it.</div>
Chaos' duality is both its up- and downside. It can propel your ideas forward, making leaps and bounds you'd have never considered, while other times chaos confounds and confuses you, getting the better of you and leave you with a mess.
The stereotype artist is one who [[thrives in chaos->love chaos]]. Yet most artists I know prefer working [[organized and orderly.->order]]Robert M. Pirsig speaks at length about patterns in his book //Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.//
<div class="quote">“You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes much sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge. And if you project forward from that pattern, then sometimes you can come up with something.”
^^Robert M. Pirsig^^</div><h4>Balancing</h4>
Whenever you feel stuck, examine your balance. The point of equilibrium right now might not be what it was a few hours prior. When your creativity stalls, examine it and adjust your balance in order and chaos.
<div class="idea">Balancing order and chaos is in the service of feeding creativity.</div>
A way to create more order in your processes is to use [[hierarchies->hierarchy]] and [[filters]]. Another much-debated method is [[planning]].
When you need that little bit of chaos to spruce things up, try [[messing things up->messing stuff up]]! Or otherwise consider the [[flexibility]] of your processes.
On a larger scale, it is important to balance periods of intense work with periods of rest and physical exercise. The psyche benefits as much from a walk as it does from a sudoku.
Knowing your [[extremes]] is in the interest of balancing them. A flexible process involves a certain amount of open-endedness. Chaos if you will.
<div class="idea">When a process is too ordered, when you can explain someone exactly what the process does, step by step, then you might as well let a computer do it.</div>
Potential problems with flexbility could arise from overdefining, overcategorization, overthinking, or even using overcomplicated workflows or tools.
Try and keep your early work loose! Set up your tools as simple as possible to allow for rapid prototyping and mistakes.
<div class="quote">"No [[plan->planning]] survives first contact with the enemy."
^^Helmuth van Moltke^^</div><h4>Processes</h4>
Processes are a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. They usually make use of one or more [[filters<- filters]] to shape chaos into order.
Processes include your tools, workflow, how you gather information, how you go about brainstorming. All these things are formative for the end result.
Processes shape the way we think about and see things on a fundamental level. Be cognizant how your workflow is influencing your work, so that you can turn specific steps on their head when you feel stuck or your work is getting stale.
We must be aware of our processes and learn to [[balance the right amount of chaos and order->balancing]]. Hierarchies are interesting because they represent one of our best ways to represent lots of "random" data in a useful way. They come natural to us, perhaps because they find their origin in nature. Hierarchies fit perfectly with concepts such as time or growth.
Our [[societies]] are full of hierarchies. Gravity enforces a hierarchy on buildings. Mazlow's hierarchy of needs, family dynasties. Hierarchies are very good at representing a lot of data in orderly fashion.
<div class="quote">Human nature yearns to see order and hierarchy in the world. It will invent if if it cannot find it."
We have to be mindful not to get stuck in hierarchies that are too rigid. [[flexibility<-Flexibility]] is a key feature of good systems. Societies always have, and should continue to have, a factor of chaos in them. Without chaos and indivdualism, the societies' hierarchy would ossify. George Orwell's book 1984 is a tale of warning in which a societies' heirarchy is completely stale and stuck. It is designed not to move anywhere, maintaining the status quo forever.
<div class="idea">Marcus Aurelius wrote that "what is good for the hive, is good for the bee". We need to understand that chaos is an integral and important part of our lives, our societies. We have to be ready for whatever comes, to bend and not break, come what will.
Because it will come. </div>The filter you use to organise your information can shape the way you see and use the information.
In Jesse Schell's Book of Lenses, he talks about more than 100 lenses (filters) through which to view your projects. See it through emotion, or color, or chapters. Get different perspectives on the work you make by changing the filters.
The medium of this article is also a filter. The inherently chaotic navigation, combined with a 2D space means all the ideas come out a certain way.
<div class="idea">The filter shapes everything you push through it. Try to swap it with a honeycomb, a cheese grater, or a void-portal, and see what comes out.</div><h4>Struggle</h4><div class="idea">To struggle is to work through it. To struggle is to move forward. Struggle should not be avoided. The more difficult the struggle, the more lessons are learned.</div>
Imagine a cowboy taming a wild horse. Only the skill of the cowboy is keeping him in the saddle.
The cowboy has a desired state: a tame horse. But he doesn't know //when, how, or where// that will happen.
<div class="idea">Chaos is just like the wild horse. We need its raw input to craft something useful and valuable. We use our [[skills]] to craft order from chaos.</div>
While on the horse the only thing to do is be present and vigilant. We have to look and be ready for clues in order to stay on the horse's back.
If we miss these clues we risk losing [[our balance->balancing]]. We must train and prepare for these clues by doing the work, studying, and [[planning]].
<div class="quote">"For a man to know himself, he must be tested; no one finds out what he can do except by trying. Great men rejoice in adversity."
^^Seneca^^</div>What skills do you have? Are you a good writer? A good drafter, painter or modeler? Is making moodboards your thing?
These skills are actions, things that we //do//, that we, as creatives, [[struggle]] with daily.
Our skills help us craft order from chaos, through the use of [[processes]].
We must be careful not to confuse our //skills// with //technical know-how// of tools. Specializing in a specific tool can help you get jobs, but also pin you in a corner that's not easy to get out of.
<div class="quote">"Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master."
^^Christian Lous Lange^^</div><div class="sidebar">Key ideas:
[[Start<-start]]</div>Chaos and order exist on the same spectrum. Aristotles' explanation of a healthy balance, the 'golden mean', to a young Alexander the Great captures it perfectly.
<div class="quote">"Thus, courage, for example, is the mean between two [[extremes->extremes]]: one can have a deficiency of it, which is cowardice, or one can have an excess of it, which is foolhardiness."
Order and chaos are often represented as good and evil, or light and dark. Countless stories and myths deal with the connectedness of these two concepts.
In visual design we see these patterns as well. Horror movies feature hosts of creepy children drawing random scribbles. Dante's inferno is a chaotic and evil place. Olympus is an organized and strict hierarchy.
<div class="quote">"Inside each of us, there is the seed of both good and evil. It's a constant [[struggle]] as to which one will win. And one cannot exist without the other."
^^Eric Burdon^^</div><div class="idea">You cannot find the middle of the road if you don't know where it starts or ends. </div>Likewise it is difficult to know what a healthy balance is if you do not know its extremes.
Do not assume that whatever you are comfortable with is actually a healthy balance. When (inevitably) a situation arises that tests your limits, see it as an opportunity to prove your worth and see where those extremes lie. Document your learnings. As Seneca said,
<div class="quote">"No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself."
Do not limit your learning to your own experiences. Learn from other people's hardships through books, biographies, poetry, documentaries.
Learn from those experiences to [[balance->balancing]] your life. Are you feeling stuck and need some chaos to move forward?
<div class="quote">“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
^^Arthur C. Clarke^^</div>Plans are great, as long as they are [[flexible->flexibility]]. They have to be open to change, able to twist and turn. Because when life happens, and it always does, plans that can't bend, they break. And once you break a habit it's tough to get back into it.
If your plans are too loose and lax, they are not keeping you on track with achieving something, which is the purpose of a plan.
Sometimes the only plan you need is to focus on whatever you're doing right now.
<div class="quote">"Concentrate every minute (like a Roman) on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions."
^^Marcus Aurelius^^</div>If creativity if the ability to think lateral and connect disparate ideas, then messing up your (working) environment helps you to be creative. Surround yourself with people, books, and images that can give you unexpected perspectives on a given idea.
<div class="idea">Don't allow the tools you're using to push you into a certain direction. Stay loose, nimble, quick on the feet - you are a fish in the waters of possibility.</div>Order is limiting in the way that it can stifle the life out of anything. Overdefining and overplanning blinds you to the all the unseen patterns that still exist.
<div class="idea">The ideas, they ossify and becomes fragile.
A single gust of wind topples it, bringing it down and shattering it in an instant.</div>
Many people spend their time planning to make something and then abandon their pursuits because [[the process->processes]] has become stale and boring.
We must learn to bring chaos into our lives, without letting it wreak havoc. We have to learn to [[balance->balancing]].<h4>On order</h4><div class="idea">Order is the [[opposite->golden mean]] of chaos. Organized, readable, [[hierarchic->hierarchy]]. A pattern.
That which we must discover. </div>
To see patterns is to be human. Patterns in math, history, sound. Our brain uses patterns, not noise, to make sense of the world.
Visual design requires patterns. Bad design has no patterns. It's unintelligible. Random. Chaotic. This makes for a bad experience.
But we can go too far, to where order becomes [[confining and limiting->limiting order]].
<div class="quote">“Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered.”
^^José Saramago, The Double^^</div><h4>On creativity</h4><div class="idea">Creativity is lateral thinking. Without creativity we would have no progress and be doomed to forever repeat the same patterns.</div>
We have to invite chaos in the act of creation, and use our [[creative skills->skills]] to transform the chaos into patterns.
With all things in life we must be careful to maintain a healthy relationship with both sides of the coin, a [[golden mean]].