Click Map for Details

Flag Counter

Monday, September 20, 2010

Contrast as Prelude to Choosing the Best

Quality control greatly restricts the quantity of the best.  Consider great poetry, how much verse do you recall that in Emily Dickinson’s phrase can blow the top of your head off?  One can wade through piles of chaff before reaching the wheat.  In fiction and nonfiction multiple drafts are typically required.  Films are edited repeatedly before presentation quality is reached.  Music recordings have many takes. The Bible contains 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.  There is much perfection there, but anyone who has read the Bible through knows that scanning rather than reading becomes necessary now and then—otherwise one will never reach the great parts.  This surplus freight is true not only in the fine arts, but in the industrial arts as well; design and implementation are often profligate.  It is clear, then, that creative acts are by nature wasteful—as millions of sperm swim, but only one fertilizes the accessible egg.  Excess seems bound to creativity; finding the best requires first identifying the mediocre.  We know what’s great by comparing and intentionally demoting the second rate.

Print Page