Month: October 2011

Writing in the Marinid period was akin to zillij-making.

Even the most mundane correspondence put out by the ruler’s Department of Insha (letterwriting, also style, contrivance and, significantly, construction work) was composed with an obsessive attention to ornament, the prose rhymed and sometimes internally sub-rhymed. Only airmail letters escaped prolixity. Written on lightweight ‘bird-paper’ and flown by carrier pigeon, they were restricted to what one authority called ‘the marrow, the cream of words’.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Because the thought stream is so pervasive

and the habit of identifying with it is so deeply ingrained, it takes some initial effort to recognize what is going on at a moment like that. But if you look carefully, you’ll notice that these mechanisms of identification and self-definition run on autopilot.

The problem—the avidya— occurs because you identify with it. But none of these feelings are you. They are just passing through.