Room to Experiment

August 5, 2015

In the brilliant film Ex Machina the following exchange between two protagonists stuck with me:

Nathan: You know this guy, right? — Jackson Pollock. — Jackson Pollock. That’s right. The drip painter. Okay. He let his mind go blank, and his hand go where it wanted. Not deliberate, not random. Some place in between. They called it automatic art. Let’s make this like Star Trek, okay? Engage intellect.

Caleb: Excuse me?

Nathan: I’m Kirk. Your head’s the warp drive. Engage intellect. What if Pollock had reversed the challenge. What if instead of making art without thinking, he said, You know what? I can’t paint anything, unless I know exactly why I’m doing it.” What would have happened?

Caleb: He never would have made a single mark.

We keep looking for That Perfect Moment to start doing anything. Until that time comes you essentially feel like you’re putting up with the status quo. That it’ll change some day. Spoiler: That Perfect Moment never comes, and neither does any perfect storm of events. If you keep waiting for the mythical perfect moments, you’re wasting today, right now, and indulging in your lethargy of doing real dirty work.

You’ve got to play around with what you have today before you can satisfactorily move on to the next thing. Experiment, see what works and what doesn’t work. Evaluate, adjust your sails and go on to experiment with something else. Repeat. You really don’t want to be the kind of person who holds wrong positions dearly. Question everything.

Engage intellect.