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Being Too Literal ...?

Being Too Literal ...?

Being Too Literal?

"You are too literal!" is a favourite put you down among arty folk. It is a variant on the "Fear of the Obvious" which I have written about and ranted over for many years now.

Essentially, art students and literary students are entrained to become blind to the obvious, and the literal, by being punished for being obvious and literal.

This leads to a mental movement that becomes quite literally (!) the psycho-path.


Diagram showing why learning to think straight is so important

Einstein rightfully observed that "When the solution is simple, God is smiling."

The Obvious is that simple, elegant solution to the problem. It makes no difference if this is a maths problem, an interior design problem, a "psychology problem" or any kind of problem at all. There is a clear path to a solution, and you will literally (!) never, ever find it - if you are entrained to ignore the obvious.

Telling people not be literal, because being literal is a bad thing, is the first step on the psycho-path from which there is no return, no escape.

It is a labyrinth that will keep people entrapped for their entire life, and leaving them wondering on their death beds where it all went so spectacularly wrong.

You don't get anywhere by following the psycho path - only into more and more insanity, chaos, entropy and eventually, implosion.

The problem with punishing youngsters for being too obvious, being too literal, is that they've never had a chance to be obvious or literal FIRST.

They don't even know what that is, to go straight to the obvious; they're too young, they don't have the experience yet.

The "straight thinking" is choked off before anyone had even a chance to learn to think straight!

Now why do they do that? Why are art students told their picture of a flower is "too literal," writing students are told their description of "My heart is heavy like a stone" has been said too many times before; why are people being turned away from the obvious?

It is a misunderstanding about the processes of creativity.

People don't understand creativity and try to "get to it" in many weird ways - through drugs, through pain and suffering, through emotional self mutilation - and by trying to avoid the obvious.

By being somehow weird, and peculiar, and different. Believing that creativity is some kind of insanity.

Creativity is NOT insanity.

Creativity - true creativity, making something NEW - is to be found on that path to the obvious - because you go from that obvious to the NEXT OBVIOUS, and the next obvious is obviously NEW.

It's amazing. It's a breakthrough! Nobody has ever seen or heard of this before!

And not just that. It is right, it is true, it is a paradigm shift!

How the path to the obvious leads to true creativity

The obvious and the real are interchangeable. Going for the obvious, the real, what's really there, first of all is the first step stone on the path to the new, and to real creativity.

So be literal. As literal as possible. Once you know the obvious, the literal, then you can move on from there and abstract to your heart's content.

Me, I will be looking for the next obvious, the next real.

That's where the mysteries reside. :-)


Silvia Hartmann

October 2016


See also:

Releasing The Fear of The Obvious


In the context of:

The NOISE painting - which is super-literal both in the recreation of the original inspiration (the chalk board) as well as because it has an actual word on it, so literal, it could be literature! :-)

Comparing the photograph of the word noise written on a chalk board with the symbol hybrid painting NOISE - yes, it's not just literal, it's super literal!

So people might say that NOISE isn't "real art because it's way too literal" - but stand in the same room with it, and you'll find it has power, and purpose, and a distinct message people can engage with, you could say it has a voice.

Which isn't bad, for a painting. :-)


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