1st Person Perspectives

There are many ways to tell a story. There is the voice of authority presumed to accurate due to being confirmed by the illustrious they or them. He, she, or they said. And how often was the reporter/storyteller actually present. This voice is not one that takes as much responsibility for accuracy as the first person. And in this case, there is still the choice of past or present tense where the writer invites the reader to accompany them back in time to more directly experience what happened or at least to what they think happened.

And here is the problem in all storytelling and in every type of writing for even reporting is storytelling. No “fact” is ever published or increasingly even uttered without consideration of the optics or way it will be perceived. Many of our role models are increasingly more concerned with optics than factual accuracy. Annual reports are like giant commercials. The news seems designed to inflame or do whatever it takes to gain attention. Advertising is the largest business model even for new tech companies. It is getting challenging to access the accuracy of anything heard or read. Even photographs are more often photoshop airbrushed to look fantastic but not necessarily honest. Pitch correction technology has become so ubiquitous that everyone seemingly can sing or play perfectly. And people who do not look or sound as wonderful as the artificially enhanced depictions they are deluged with, are increasingly afraid to be alive and real for they can not compare to the unreality which has become standard. Our politicians and increasing our judges are owned by our businessmen just as much as our artists are owned by publicists. Reputation manipulation is regular business and now governance practice.

For me and most of the people I know, it has become incredibly difficult to know what the truth is in many situations. Although this is dangerous, there are plenty of honest and accurate situations, and they are the ones where we are personally present and can witness with our own eyes and ears and process with our own brains precisely what we are experiencing. This is the first person present tense and perhaps not coincidently it seems at least to me to be becoming the voice of the newest hottest branch of writing called Creative Nonfiction.

Nonfiction has traditionally been factual, authoritative, dry and therefore usually not as emotionally engaging as fiction unless of course, the facts are incredible which is sometimes the case. Creative Nonfiction seems to be the practice of increasing the emotional content of nonfiction by utilizing the literary devices of fiction. This is not an entirely new practice. Remember Ayn Rand, a philosopher who wrote many nonfiction books but achieved fame through her novels, which embodied her philosophies in the acts and personalities of her characters.
Perhaps memoirs told in the artist person are more honest if not the most accurate sources of information. My Mac’s dictionary defines memoirs as a historical account or biography is written from personal knowledge or special sources, with the synonyms: account, history, record, chronicle, narrative, story, portrayal, depiction, sketch, portrait, profile, biography, monograph or essay on an academic subject.

At least when one writes a memoir, it is usually in the first person, and presumably, the writer was there witnessing hopefully in their right mind, what was happening in their life. Could they be lying? Sure, but at least as the author they are taking responsibility for what they wrote, unlike most of the information coming to us these days.

If you were to write a memoir where you depicted someone as a jerk but their family members voiced their difference of opinion that this person, let’s call him uncle John, was a real gem and wonderful human being. You as the author could just say, that is not my recollection of John, as to me, he was a jerk. And no one could sue you for libel for it was your opinion which you are entitled to.

Well, if you were able to round up more people who knew John than perhaps it would be possible to tell if John was a Jerk or a Gem. Or maybe the only existing photo of John was photo-shopped, into an airbrushed perfection of a super kindly soul. Or maybe John was really good at faking wonderfulness. We can never know.

But increasingly I am going to look for first-person narratives where the author takes reasonability for what they say. Perhaps this is another reason why so many memoirs are written by people many years after their exciting experiences, with the first one being they were too busy living them to be writing.

Most memoirs may fall under the heading of Creative Nonfiction, so if you now have the time and the inclination to write your memoir and take reasonability for what you say for after all it is a subset of your personal recollections, and you had better write them down before you forget or enhance the details too much.

Subtractive Composition

Composing connotes additive synthesis as in a work of music, literature, or art. My Mac has a large number of definitions. Here are the first three: 

1) the nature of something’s ingredients or constituents; the way in which a whole or mixture is made up: the social composition of villages.

2) the action of putting things together; formation or construction: the composition of a new government was announced.

3) a thing composed of various elements: a theory is a composition of interrelated facts.

These imply a bottom-up path. Could a top-down approach also work?

In carving, the presumption is the final result is already present within the stone, wood, or any other medium and everything that is not the final result needs removal. Visually, this the case in optics, where white contains all of the colors in the spectrum, which when filtered cause one or more colors to remain. In electronic music, there are both additive and subtractive synthesis which produce results of very differing character. Joining smaller pieces of wood into a larger one is not the same as starting with a more substantial portion.

Carving subtraction can less forgiving than assembly, but is this always the case? Is there a Meta-Level in the arts in music, where a composer conceives of multiple themes and variations simultaneously, just as white light contains all of the colors?

Is the act of improvisation or composing in real time, one of addition or one of subtraction? Is there a larger musical structure which can be comprehended or imagined more instantly as a sculpture within a large chunk of marble? If so how would one characterize this structure? 

How about instead of beginning with a single melody, if one began with harmonic waypoints as sonic meta milestones each of which by definition contains more than a single note and often four, five or six. Moving from one harmonious construction or chord to another implies a set of potential melodies all coexisting much as the more massive block of wood has within it a collection of possible carvings. 

In music building blocks can be chords, not notes, providing both content and context simultaneously. Each chord can be expressed in many ways through inversions, voicings, and timbres, not to mention dynamic, expressions and articulations. As notes to be meaningful usually exist within the context of phrases, phrases can exist within larger rhythmic or harmonic contexts as well.

This embedding of components within meta level contexts is everywhere we look from wisdom embedded within stories to probiotic bacteria enabling us to digest food effectively.  

Perhaps it is time for us to consider or even invent, more meta-structures to solve large societal as well as artistic problems. We are all to varying degrees context managers. Presumably experienced adults know much more than children about managing context. The act of collaboration requires shared context without which projects stall.

We have to innovate our way out of problems as it is not possible to go back in time. Perhaps we are now being forced through our increasing interdependencies to collaborate to be effective? If so, shared context is the only path to collaboration, and this meta-level concept may not be able to be achieved through an additive process. We may have to sort with white light, large pieces of marble and coincident variations and themes. Also, then we may have to subtract elements to yield the results we need. 

It could be time for Subtractive Composition. A good stating meta structure could be the golden rule. Treat others in the way you would like to be treated. Then we can carve away the exceptions, but from my perspective right now society needs a restart. A new process informed by a new view. We had better begin to be top down instead of bottom up if we are to prevail over the current fractious state of affairs. 

Showing Up

The oft-quoted “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” by Wayne Gretzky a famous hockey player, shows up often in motivational literature. What do innovators, athletes, deal makers, and psychologists have in common? They are all focused on Showing Up. And they all know that physically, mentally and emotionally showing up are all required.

This can be very difficult for innovators who often get punished for showing up as they tend to rock the boat which understandably makes many if not most of the other people in the boat nervous. In fact the more unusual your point of view, the more rejection you are likely to experience which initially can have the tendency to diminish your enthusiasm for showing up. Sometimes you even show up but find the situation may not be conducive to opening your mouth.

In fact, this is often the case, for the insensitive inventor may become the friendless and unfunded inventor. This showing up business can be tricky. Bearing witness to what you have seen, heard or imagined can get you in trouble which is why sometimes the people who keep their heads down and are politically sensitive often win out over the Insensitive Insightful, creative innovator type.

This is a real dilemma. You can never change the world by keeping your head down. Or if one can, it would take so long that few creatives like you would be willing to wait. On the other hand, charging into the C-level decision makes office proudly showing up with the attitude I am here to change your entire company will not likely yield the resources you need to accomplish much. I know this from personal experience.

Therefore, although it is critical to show up, it is also crucial to be a Complex Collaborator at the same time. For showing up and then wholly following the leader is not going to cause change either. Innovating is like walking a tightrope. It requires courage, balance and a lot of skill as well as showing up. But without having the courage to show up, or insensitively showing up both result in not being able to apply the balanced skills and insights.

Yes, you have to show up, but you also have to zoom out to see the other potential stakeholders perspectives as well. After all, you want them to look at your point of view right, then the ‘quid pro quo’ requires you see and demonstrate that you see, understand and value their opinions not only as well but usually first. You end to have to pay forward in the creativity business for known boat rockers are often denied entry to the boat.

So to add to the burden of showing up with insight, one also has to have a pretty idea of how to apply it within a framework, not of your making. So yes you do have to show up, but you also have to let your stakeholders show up as well for them to be interested in you showing up.

Marquee Moments

Historically a marquee was a large and often sumptuous tent. When I grew up, it was the big lit sign outside movie theaters and concert venue. In recent years we have heard of marquee customers, clients, accounts, assets, players, performers, and marquee environmental laws.  It has been used to mean several things including exceptionally popular, skilled, outstanding, flagship, the crown jewel, prized advantage or highly visible symbol of success. 

A recent exciting usage I am expanding upon here in today’s posting is Marquee Moments, which seems to imply moments of great importance, code for makes for a good headline.

To my mind, they can be more than a headline but an opportunity for change or pivoting based upon insights, newly revealed, discovered or invented. Or dare I say innovated? You knew that would be coming right?

Innovators tend to have many impactful professional moments. The first invention first shipped product, first funds raised, first time meeting a payroll, first time not meeting payroll, next revs of each rapidly follow early successes and first failures.  Some of these moments stand out head and shoulders above the others, referred to as Marquee Moments.

My First Marquee 

My first big one occurred on my first day of school in the schoolyard before classes began as a five-year-old casually asking some of the other kids what books they were reading and what they thought about them. This outreach garnered pretty much no response at all, so I asked a few other questions which generated a worse reaction. I was told to stop using big words because they made people feel stupid. Now as a first child the only conversations I had previously, were with my parents and relatives, so I was stunned and genuinely asked which words were the big ones. It only took a few more minutes before I determined I had better relate by being an athlete than a conversationalist.

This realization that I was not like most of the other kids in the schoolyard was a real shocker, and I am sure many of you have also encountered the mismatch between “normal” and “you.” On the other hand, I had many other things to read and think about as well as learning how to play stickball, dodgeball, punchball and to fight (this was Brooklyn in the 1950s).

Being all of five, I did not dwell on differences between me and the other kids much although it was crystal clear that I was operating using a different core logic than others, a fact reinforced every day. Having been surrounded by inventors, artists, musicians, and other marginalized deviants, it all came out in the wash, only recently resurfacing as the press describes the marquee moments presumably all of society and the nation are currently facing.

Much to my amazement, thinking creative people are baffled by what is going on outside of us. It is indeed an unusual time, even for one who grew up in the sixties where our agenda was to dismantle society and change the values so deviance could be tolerated and also celebrated. 

What is more distressing at this moment in time is the wave after wave of poor behavior and poor decision making, the people who think they are running the world are exhibiting, and I do not mean to limit this to the most elevated levels!  At this moment neither government, nor business, nor religion, nor do educators know what to do, how to do it or even to behave correctly.  In short, things feel like they are falling apart more than usual and I have never been a massive fan of authorities also as I became one.

It appears that we are reaching s super marquee moment where humanity is going to have to either take responsibility and learn how to collaborate or continue to be selfish and greedy and die out. The good news is we do have the opportunity to get our act together mostly due to the democratization of technology which has radically reduced so many barriers to change, the primary one of which is the ability to communicate. We have become a networked species where almost everyone on the planet has a supercomputer in their pocket that is not only super computationally powerful but also super connected in ways that are mind-blowing even for someone who helped invent them.

Seriously, folks, the time has come for us to get it together and that means to vote and to communicate and most of all to stop assuming that society has any idea at all how to manage itself. Our schools and governments are failing, and yes our businesses are making money but still disenfranchising the vast majority of the human race.  In short, this is as unsustainable as the dark ages were for a straightforward reason – thoughts, once thought,  cannot be unthought. Since there are now many millions of networked connected people who already have personally experienced how well collaboration works, those unwilling to work together will either have to kill the majority of the human race or get out of the way. 

In 2005 when I founded SVII the very first web page key message was Innovate or Die. This statement is far more true today than it was then. I have gone out of my way for these last thirteen years, not to be political, for I found it too divisive. Society seems to be seriously busted, and our democracy is in danger of failing. Also, our school systems are not teaching people what they need most in the world, how to learn. Increasing numbers of coaches and preachers are perverts. Our political leaders have no idea how to do anything other than be self-serving and are too insecure to have a real conversation and at least there is one thing we can still count on, many bosses and companies are still exploitative. 

We currently produce enough food to feed the planet and enough energy to power the earth. So what is the problem? Simple, the deep hole in the soul of the zero-sum game folks, who derive power stealing it from others cannot be filled up by consumption, nor acquisition of power. There is nothing external that will ever solve their issues of existential angst. Life and happiness are an inside job and now more than ever no one should be depending on anyone outside making their life work. The loyalty of employees toward their employers and vice-a-versa is now gone. Marriage is not doing that great either. If people do not work on themselves and work on getting along, they will be leaving a world for their kids not worth having.

Let’s begin by making out clear by voting that we are unwilling to accept this atrocious behavior on the part of our leadership. And if that does not work quickly enough to save humanity, then let us hack and drive the techno-illiterate vampires back into the dark ages. If small cells of terrorists can take on large governments, it should not be too difficult to hack the businesses and properties of those who are screwing up the world. They are already demonstrating just how impotent they are, why not merely destroy their ability to do business. No violence is needed. No bombs. No anthrax. As an example say there was a particular unresponsive insecure hotel owner, how hard could it be to entirely digitally overwhelm their enterprise’s ability to function?

Engineers and scientists gave all countries their roads, highways, hospitals, and infrastructure both analog and digital. They can be taken back or just not repaired when they fail due to poor maintenance and greed.

The pen has already proven to be mightier than the sword. The internet is merely a turbocharged pen. Communication and Information is power. Engineers could join with Hollywood, Hollywood, Netflix, Hulu and the networks who are producing plenty of content calling people on their stuff.  

By the way, I doubt very much that the group of people who want to use the clock back to the good old days will ever read a word a person like me writes. There is a message to deliver to them when you encounter them in life as we do have to work together.  Time travel to the past is not possible, for it no longer exists. The world has moved on.  Additionally, the people who want to go back do not have the skills to recreate or to create, and we will not help them to do it. Let’s see how far they get without medicine, communications or computers. 

If Congress will not do it job and continues this travesty of irresponsible behavior, let us fire them!

If a fake unauthorized by the democratic process Supreme Court tries to go backward to work to undo decades of progress made toward a collaborative civilization, lets just technologically shut them down. How hard would it be to shut down a handful of individuals determined to drive humanity backward? I bet they could not write a single line of code or fix their cars, or debug their phones or computers. 

Sorry for the anger but I have been patient for many years and saw instead of progress a de-evolution and have no intentions of supporting an attempt to return to a dream which is not a reality and to even possible. The disenfranchised population that is terrified of learning new skills and jobs and becoming part of the future understandably wants to go back to something they understand. Unfortunately even though I get why they want to go backward it is not possible so they are ongoing to merely die unhappy unless they change their expectations and learn how to be a new person who is after all the job of all of us – to learn how to grow and improve and be better than we were.  

It is quite narrow-minded to attempt to force upon the world which is ready to move ahead, a minority decision desire to go backward.