I condemned a recent draft to eternal damnation.
It is easy to write impulsively – what we often call spontaneous writing. It often makes for good reading. But it has its limitations. Like a flight with failed engines it lands with a thud, a lump of battered metal, yet tangible as can be. It isn’t a smooth flight, with a smooth landing on the tarmac, its perspective complete and intact. If we linger in and around the thought for a bit, we could give it a much broader sense. Not a general sense, a broader sense. A wider PoV
For a long time I have been intrigued by Plato’s definition of shape. Before you read further, it may be worthwhile to think about it for a while.
What is shape?
Writes, The Imugi:
And like everything else, definition implies borders.
Now I have dwelled on this line and the paragraph that it heralds, for quite a while. Recent events and thoughts around them have probably helped shape meaning. The worst definition we can ever create – is for thinking. That definition is often called process. It is not, yet we use it as such. Beyond a wide channel of a guideline, a process isn’t anything more. And it never can be the definition of a thought. Of all things that can never take shape – it is thought and the ability to think. I have, over some time now, come to hate the phrase – thought process. It reeks of the rotting death of creativity and intelligence.
Here is the entire paragraph that has knotted the neurons to numbness since this post about the Philosophy of Blogging was written:
And like everything else, definition implies borders. As it becomes more clear just what this blog is, it also becomes more clear as to what it is not. It’s like Zhuangzi’s story about the musician: before any song is played, before any strings are touched, there’s a strange kind of perfection. It is the perfection of potential; any number of songs are present in potentia. Once you begin to play, however, that changes. One possibility from the infinite possibilities is selected; it is actualized. And once it is, the possibility of the others vanishes. There are borders now, and with borders there is differentiation. The musician is playing this tune, and not that one. Whereas before all of them blended together in the silence which contains the potential for all kinds of sound.
Shape is the limit of a solid, says Plato. I like to think of it more as, shape is the limit of form. (PDF of the entire dialogue: Plato’s Meno)
Is there, then, an entity that we could call a “well-formed thought”? I do not think so, what is well formed is the action, which is a derivative of that thought. The original thought itself is formless, shapeless and therefore limitless. A process imposes restrictions on further flight to a thought – crashes it down to the ground in a lump of often half-cooked tangible action. Like the tune that was played as against the one that wasn’t, we have a thought that was prematurely brought to life and made into default lumpy action rather than a relevant well-shaped one.
It may seem that I ask that all thoughts continue their flight of fancy without ever requiring them to culminate into action. Not so. The thought’s flight gives it perspective – and a better chance at well-shaped action, rather than an amorphous one dictated by the relatively narrow channel that a process defines. A few border crossings do not violate a process, yet they allow a better chance at deliberate and directed action.
A process is only useful if its purpose is known. A thought, every time it is weighed with apprehension, weakens its wings and limits its flight.