Friday, January 22, 2021

The best I can do.

If, god forbid, it ever happened that I was forced through some sort of cosmic high-colonic to re-enter the Holding Company business that threw me out on my ass as obsolete at the age of 62 and at the height of my creative powers, and I were asked to once again help run a creative department or reinvigorate a creative department or an agency, I think I'd do one thing.

It would piss a lot of people off for being too confusing. It would piss other people off for being too simple. It would piss still others off because it's antithetical to how most everything works today, no matter what your vocation or avocation. 

I'd say the words I learned from Errol Morris the first time I shot with him.

Talent, such as it is, would enter the casting session nervous. I can understand that. In my mind, entering a casting session must be like showing up for a party alone. There's nowhere to hide. You're on your own.

They were also, being in front of Errol, expecting some sort of eloquence or profundity.

What they got was two words.

"Do something."

That was Morris' way of discovering how people think. Do something. 

If they did something and it was unique, funny, heartfelt, weird, Errol had more adroit direction. One-third longer. Or 50 percent depending on your math.

"Do something else."

Some years ago I flew to Berlin with another notable director to shoot a spot for IBM. My wife decided to hide herself in my duffle bag and see the city while I was busy idioting in video-village and waiting 97-minutes for German Starbucks, which is not nearly as convenient as American Starbucks. Both of which suck.

After a week, we were done in Berlin, and my wife and I decided to spend a week in Amsterdam. We had never been there before and we were curious.

One of our first stops in Amsterdam was the Rijksmuseum, which has as much great art per square angstrom as any museum anywhere. Because I am a collector of great links that may someday entertain, help or amuse me, you can visit the Rijksmuseum just by clicking here. For all the woe and horror in the world, planet earth remains an amazing place where shit like this happens pretty much for free.

Our next stop was the Van Gogh Museum. 

While there, in addition to seeing Van Gogh's breathtaking work, I learned something really magical. 

In the last 70 days of Van Gogh's life, he painted 77 paintings. Your taste in art and knowledge might be more exalted than mine. But to my eyes, there wasn't a clinker in the lot.

Painting one. May 1890.

Painting seventy-seven. July 1890.

As I near my 6,000th post in this space, I'll admit that at times it gets to be a chore. I have clients and colleagues breathing down my neck. Whiskey wants to play, or I'm tired and just want a rest.

You hear a lot of excuses like that from people in all sorts of professions. Especially advertising. 

I'm not in the mood.

I hate the client.

The brief sucks.

There's no money, there's no time, I have no partner.

OK. I get it.

But, as I said, somehow Van Gogh painted 77 paintings in 70 days. 

So, paint.

I've found that the best way to do something is just to do it. If you're a writer, start writing. If you're an art director start following your visual thoughts, go to the Rijksmuseum, above. If you're a planner, pull at the loose threads from conversations you've had. Write a dialogue.

Everything you do doesn't have to make sense. When you're starting and getting over stuckness or getting out of molasses or just getting going, it doesn't even have to be good. It doesn't even have to make sense. Pretend you're blindfolded--don't even self-edit.

If you know anything about how your brain works, how the mind makes connections, how one stray bit of dumbness can lead to a blinding flash of smartness, you'll find that doing is always better than not doing.

If I had two hours and had to write something on, say, quantum computing, I'd quickly read as many articles as I could in an hour. 

Then I'd type: computing used to be a set of ones and zeros. It was binary. Off or on. Like a light switch.

Quantum changes that. 

There's no off. 

No on.

No one. No zero.

Everything happens at once.

That makes fast faster.

I'm not 100% sure I can wrap my head around that--everything happening at once. But here's what it could mean to you.

And so on.

That's not perfect.

I'm not even sure it makes sense.

But somehow, it's a start.

And a start is better than a nothing.

And besides, it's the best I can do.

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