Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Keep It under Your Hat, But Wear a Big Hat

Conventional wisdom cautions us against sharing or discussing unformed or barely formed ideas.At first blush, this is a place where conventional wisdom appears to not only be correct,but also supportive, encouraging us to at least finish a complete draft, the literary equivalent of the Beta version.

In this case, however, conventional wisdom wises to reinforce the fear that the original impetus, the primary spark of focus, will be lost in the talking. Ideas are cheap, conventional wisdom says, doing its best to sound conventional and wise.  

Execution is the key.  Grand ideas are like a field of dandelions on a windy day.  Grand ideas must be implemented, worked out. The operant emotion in this and much conventional wisdom is fear.  Conventional wisdom wishes to tell us of the virtue in work, persistence, a cheerful determination.  Nose, as it were, to the grindstone.

At about the late 1860s, a writer named Horatio Alger all but launched a version of conventional wisdom in book form, steeped in the mythology of hard work, determination, honesty, and some notable act of bravery were the cornerstones on which to erect the edifice of self.  

This was about the time when the so-called Robber Barons were hard at work scooping up vast reserves of cash and power at such breakneck speed that they had scarce time for the requisite honesty of the conventional wisdom.

The merging of conventional wisdom with the Horatio Alger mantra was not intentional, but in short order became a kind of secular equivalent of religion for the working classes.  In time, this attitude floated upward, into the languages radiating from various pulpits, flowing with the vigor and pressure of oil wells giving brief opening statements of riches all about us.

Getting the idea down in some early form is a good way to get it into an internal start-up mode, whereupon such materials are often submitted to the peer review process or shared with informed, energetic debate.  The self is a remarkable thing; many men and women have gone forth with their ideas, after vetting them with close friends, to provide works of memorable strength, personality, and insight.

How then to look at conventional wisdom and its unerring messages of fear and caution, leavened with occasional acts of bravery?  How to compute the necessary preparations, energy, and excitements required to get our ideas into the proper orbits that are themselves long distances beyond convention?

Convention is the horizon.  We must look above the horizon.  Sometimes, the only way we can do so is by jumping or piling a stack of books or building a tree house.  Sometimes we find ways to merge with the ideas, themselves, casting off ballast to the point where we feel the transportation, upward into the stratosphere of enthusiasm.

Not all ideas pay off; surely you know that from the scrap heap of your own ideas, too leaden to achieve escape velocity.  Not all conventions are to be sneered at, but it seems to you the ones most worthy of heeding are ones you recognize as not being fear based, or even those asking you, "Have we tangible need for this?"  Those seem reasonable conversations to be had with your ideas.

Ideas are like impatient, energetic, enthusiastic individuals, eager to see if there is a place for them in the conversation of Reality.  They are of particular worth when you see about you a fractured society, the family of Mankind becoming a dysfunctional family, filled with accusations, acquisitiveness, cynicism, and a frustrating sense of helplessness.

Such things add to the growing fear at the subtext of all reality, causing you, even with your sense of being at home with dark, nihilistic works, looking for ways to give a sense of loft and mobility to ideas.

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