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Brave Specificity

One discipline that has had the courage to create specificity and to explore the gray areas of the world is science. For example, it used to be that there was only a Euclidean model for geometry with extremely straight lines and circles and theorems that made sense and very logical and defined. A to B. Euclidean Geometry. Then of course came trigonometry and logarithms which created greater complexity for that geometry. (Compliments of my distant relative, John Napier). Cut to the calculus by Newton and Leibniz which dared to explore the rate of change of the rate of change, and in itself, becomes more and more complex in order to explain the observable universe. Math becomes less tidy, more complex, and a closer representation of reality. The truth. Einstein had to advance mathematics just to support a hypothesis, as did Stephen Hawking, who claims he has to invent new mathematics to keep up with his theories of black holes and the universe. Einstein himself had to defy a very black-and-white perfect clockwork universe that Newton created. Newton believed that the universe itself was a clock. Very ordered. Very constant. very tangible and very understandable, and reversible. Well along comes Einstein, who states that it’s actually not a clockwork universe but it’s a consequence of space-time and that gravity is like a sheet of fabric that all of the planets and stars in the universe travel upon and that reality and time itself is only based on the relative perspective of the observer. What the F?

It used to be that one could easily define an atom with its protons and neutrons and electrons orbiting much like a miniature Newtonian universe. Now enter Max Planck, Niels Bohr, and subatomic quantum mechanics. Here we are full circle back to Werner Heisenberg and his Uncertainty Principle. Not really on purpose though, semi-ironically enough.

Science, essentially says, “yeah what you’re looking at, what you’re observing, it looks a certain way, right? That would be nice if it were that easy, wouldn’t it? All straight- forward and packaged and nice, but unfortunately, it just isn’t that simple”.

It looks like that the earth is the center of the universe, but it just isn’t true. It looks like that the world is flat, but upon closer evaluation and the courageous exploration of specificity we ascertain that the Earth is actually round. It looks like the universe is a clock. It isn’t. It takes courage, depth, curiosity, and perseverance to arrive at a more complex specific explanation for the natural world. Especially after the rational brain has been initially satisfied with a much simpler explanation.

Science dares to do this where other disciplines may stop. Science keeps asking more and more detailed questions, and the more questions answered, the more questions arise. It’s a seemingly never-ending process for science to find the nearest thing to the absolute truth. It is far from lazy. It is an insane exploration of the manic-specific. Manic-specific is a word I just made up. I doubt I will use it again.

Another area that explores what I’ll call specificity versus generalization, is art. Art is what one might call manic-specific. As it evolves it becomes more specific. For a very long time it was also, like Euclidean Geometry, very linear. Growing form cave drawings, then simple geometric shapes, to perspective lines,etc. As art became more realistic and more surrealistic and impressionistic and other -istics, it began to possess the bravery to go beyond lines and circles and triangles and other simple geometry into the realm of specific realistic photo-like drawings (the way we actually look) or interpretations of reality, distorting or commenting upon it, which requires a different, complex, specific style of art.

Whereas the left brain, logical part of us is always seeking order, art often defies and redefines it. Therefore art must go into the world of defying the analytical brain’s NEED to define order. That’s almost art’s job in the world. To do just that. To look at the world as we attempt to find order and either to explore the beauty in nature or to question that which human beings’ would like to designate as order and challenge it and redefine it for another different look or alternative meaning.

Fashion has always accepted the concept of non-order, because it needs to. Human beings are not straight lines. We have asymetrical curves — a strange non-geometrical appearance which clothes must follow the shape of in order to fit us. A sock isn’t a perfect cylinder and things have sleeves which are sewn oddly onto pieces of fabric in order to fit a form that doesn’t conform to a strict Euclidean geometric shape.

Later, I will construct a metaphor for creating and packing a suitcase. I will suggest that the finished, packed suitcase, with its array of clothes, resembles a torso, with the body’s organs, etc. arranged together in a non-linear, untidy, but highly effective manner. I think you will forget this sentence by the time we get to that.

Design, has just begun to conform to a closer reality. It is adhering more to the truth about the way things are, not the simplest geometric shape to suggest the ways things are, or an idealized simple representation of the things in the world. Ergonomic design, which actually conforms to the human body, is a contemporary example of this. It seems like a keyboard should just be a rectangular device with perfectly aligned keys on it. That’s the simplest representation of a keyboard one can imagine, and perhaps, at first glance, most aesthetically pleasing. The truth, though, is that that type of keyboard isn’t the best suited keyboard for a human being. It may not be easy, and it may not be as pretty sometimes, but it is true that it is the safest and most comfortable and physiologically suited keyboard. An ergonomic one.

Please Jesus, I don’t even pretend this is even a mini-history of all of these arts and sciences, but merely a broad-stroke look in order to examine, oddly enough, the journey from broad-stroke to more detailed in their disciplines.

Science fiction has also attempted to actually represent and predict reality. It used to be, that a flying saucer, was a perfectly oval or round shape, shiny, and flying effortlessly through the sky. Cut to Star Wars, which creates a spaceship that is dirty, lumbering, loud, oblong, and obviously well used. It’s not a tidy, shiny nice round object but a filthy lumbering “how the hell could it even fly?” utility vehicle.

All of the above have displayed courageous specificity, and not a ready-made simple box that the left-brain can file away and say, “got it”.

Specificity is a daring and dirty exploration of a better defined reality. It’s not as packaged and not as pretty as tidier, simpler depictions, but it grows nearer and nearer reality.

I invite you to have the courage, and to take the time, and to expend the energy, to explore and to provide, more specificity.

The truth, if you’re into that.

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