Navigating the in-between

We aren’t all that in love with old ideas.

And we don’t really hate new ideas.

It’s that space in-between old and new that gives us hives.

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It’s hard enough to jump from your own old idea to a pre-existing idea someone else has already worked out.

But to leave an old idea in search of a new one which one simply believes must exist if one goes in this direction far enough — that’s an effort of a different magnitude. That’s the difference between learning and creating.

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To create means to inhabit the in-between space. It requires courage, faith and pain-tolerance.

While we are in this in-between we feel disoriented, skinless, darkened, heavy, and there is an overwhelming temptation to flinch, to look back, to go back to something that feels familiar* — but to succumb to this temptation is to be sentenced to infertility, artificiality and forcedness of production.

(*Note: The familiar is felt more than identified by sight. The familiar can be disguised beneath all sorts of distracting exoticism, yet beneath the superficial skin of appearance the “bone structure” of the situation is the same, meaning one fits into it in a way that provides instant orientation, and the “musculature” draws on practical habits acquired in the old situation. This is the trick of pop culture, where trends incessantly shift and give an appearance of everything moving and changing and renewing all the time, while essentially nothing changes at all. Most people prefer an appearance of change and a reality of deep, complacent stagnation, a fact well-exploited by advertising. Pop culture is all about novelty without renewal.)

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There’s a kind of mastery involved in navigating the in-between space, but it is not a mastery of techniques. It is a mastery of finding one’s way in situations where one does not know one’s way about, and discovering practical responses where no existing technique is at the ready.

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The name for the in-between space between conceptions is perplexity. The name for the intensely painful feeling of disorientation that overflows the “object” of perplexity and grips the entirety of one’s being is anxiety. The name of the techniqueless mastery of navigating perplexity exists, but is too ludicrous and indefensible to mention.