Artistic Constraints

There are rules, and then there are rules.

I think Seth Godin puts it best: There are limitations, which can be overcome, and constraints, which you are going to have to work around.

The trick is,

Which ones are which?

I talked about this in passing in the Chaos Magic post, but it’s so goddamn smart, it bears repeating.

Chaos Magic posits no beliefs — at least none to be considered absolutely “true”. Nothing is true. You are therefore free to take anything you like and use it AS IF it were true. Everything is permitted. And the amazing thing is that even if you’re faking it it still works!

A belief system, ANY belief system, even one cobbled together from bits and pieces, copied or original, if it’scontinuously subscribed to as being absolutely true by the magican, it ceases to be Chaos Magic.

Chaos Magicians are magical agnostics. They don’t know what might be absolutely true, and suspect that nothing is — and they DON’T CARE.

Artistic Constraints

Have you ever had someone tell you,  “Just make me something. Whatever you think. I’m sure I’ll love it.” (The writers and artists are all nodding their heads with me, cuz they know exactly what that means: You are so fucked.)

Because when you can do anything, you have NO IDEA what direction to move in. And, naturally you do nothing.

In  this case, constraints are a gift. A blessing.

Without constraints, you have no problem to solve. Without problems to solve, you have no impetus for creation.

The trick is deciding which factors you will overcome, and which you will go around.

Personally, I would suggest making a list. Allow me to illustrate:

  • Residual side effects of brain injury. CONSTRAINT (albeit a limited one). Used to be a limitation. But now I’m content not sweat it.
  • The Henry Ford (over)work ethic. LIMITATION. I’m getting better at not feeling like I should go get some more work done after supper. And I spend a lot of time hanging out having conversations with various web denizens, which not only makes me more well-rounded, but is actually fun. I’m overhauling more of my life to serve that dual-purpose. I doubt I’ll ever get over the need to challenge myself, but at least I’ll channel it in worthwhile directions.
  • Bootstrapping mindset. LIMITATION. I am so done with this idea that I have to do it all myself. I’m still putting it into practice though.

See? It’s easy. Plus, just because it’s a constraint for now, doesn’t mean you can’t work on it some other time. And vice versa. The list was actually kind of fun for me because I could see where I’d been, what I’d already overcome. That was pretty cool. And having the list is a good reminder of what you’re focussing on. The rest is structure for you to move around.

So? what are your limitations and constraints?


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