Monday, November 29, 2010

Laws of Making 7: The True Maker Sees Beyond the Actual to the Potential

Making Monday

The first Law of Transcendence is that The True Maker Sees Beyond the Actual to the Potential.

To transcend is literally to climb above or beyond. True making is transcendental (with a small 't') because it always contains a generative element: that is, true making is, at some level, always about bringing something new into existence. Makers transcend the limits of what actually exists by adding order, significance, and design to the universe.

The first step toward transcendence is to see the potential for something new. How, after all, can you transcend if you can't see beyond what's immediately in front of you?

I've often heard that Michelangelo's approach to sculpting was to see the statue in the block and then simply remove the excess marble.

Makers, as I've mentioned earlier, are not terrified by the blank page, but see instead a universe of possibilities.

How do they do this?

At one level, the ability of true makers to see possibilities is nothing more mystical than the basic process of creativity that John Brown characterizes as, "You ask questions and then you come up with answers." In a purely procedural sense, makers see the potential beyond the actual because they've learned to make the associations that generate enough answers that they can discard the common ones and arrive at the intriguing ones.

Of course, stating the first Law of Transcendence clearly and illustrating it with a few examples doesn't begin to convey the depth and majesty of the vision of true makers. Like all the other laws, you've got to experience making in all its dimensions to begin to understand.

Image: Bill Longshaw /

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