Saturday, August 11, 2007


Grey is drab. It’s elements, black and white, have character: Black is striking and bold, cavalier and authoritative, cold and mysterious. White is crisp and clean, full of possibilities, saintly and sober. Grey is, well, grey.

However, people who live and think in grey – while dipping into black and white when appropriate – are cool. Grey thinkers are open to possibilities, uninhibited and not normalized by what exists. They think in a yes, and … manner. They are voracious collectors and connectors of dots (experiences), challenging rules, trying new things, and refusing to accept status quo. Their world is kaleidoscopic and clairvoyant, an always curious landscape of combinatorial possibilities. Stuff happens, and shit gets done, because they make it happen. Creative thinkers and artists and musicians and athletes and entrepreneurs and writers and circus conductors think in grey. Kids do too.

Plato, Kant and Freud all recognized that creative processes (thinking in grey?) are actually different from other kinds of processes. Creative processes lead to products that do not seem directly traceable to antecedent conditions or the workings of established laws.

Reminds me of an apt quote from Jung:

The artist's relative lack of adaptation becomes his real advantage, for it enables him to keep aloof from the main streets the better to follow his own yearning and to find that things which the others unwittingly passed by.
Most of the world, though, thinks and exists and adapts in black and white. The world is binary: It’s either this or that and that’s the way it is (and has been). No questions, no trepidation. Authority rules. Hierarchies are accepted. Mediocrity is the norm. Black and white thinkers constrain possibilities, obey rules, and shy from new experiences (or dot-collecting adventures). They are drone-like in their walking and talking; it’s as if they’re programmed by bits and bytes, a normalized genotype of 0s and 1s. Things happen for a reason, not because they made it happen.

It’s impossible to entirely live in a grey world. There are laws, morals and standards that beg adherence. And, there are conclusions, facts and applied-grey-thinking decisions that become black or white. To create grey (thinking that leads to creation), you need to combine black and white (what exists/what’s established). You can then repeat the cycle, imagineering in grey while dipping into black and white when necessary. Sounds like a fruitful use of your grey matter.

Post-script (21 Jan 08): Of all places, I found a relevant and inspiring muse in an ad (Monterey CVB) in this month's Sunset:
Can the salt water by your muse?
Can it inspire you to
not just simply see different things,
but to see things differently?

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