Friday, November 16, 2018

This Side of Complexity

Photo by Salt Water New England
Some have a craving for complex flavors and an increasing distaste for simple, flat, or inert ones.  A choice between freshly squeezed orange juice compared to Tang, or unpasteurized cider rather than apple juice, is no choice at all.

This craving of complexity goes well beyond food of course.  It applies to almost everything, from news sources to clothes to furniture.

A few have conflated this complexity with a rough-hewn presentation. Others think a variation is more enduring; the ability to engage complex ideas, materials, even - in technology, for example - ecosystems in elegant forms may be at the heart of lasting value.

While this ability to be refreshed by embracing complexity seems to be a benefit of advancing years, the culture of the millennials seems to be able take solace in certain kinds of depth at an earlier age than prior generations.   Education - formal, informal, or just as a feature of the zeitgeist - may accelerate and direct the growth.

This skill is becoming more important.  Appreciating this side of complexity - be it in coffee, a symphony, tweed, a flock, a walk in the forest, an open wood fire, or an active ocean - is the most reliable balm for almost any cacophony, including brought on by the holidays or the milieu in which we currently find ourselves.

11 comments:

  1. True, as it goes. But I would argue it's not craving or appreciating "complexity" as much as it is appreciating "quality."

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  2. I see the things you labelled as complex as being simple, but not for simpletons. Maybe I'm misunderstanding?

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    1. Yes! There are many positive attributes to "simple" things: complexity, texture, nuance, authenticity...

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    1. Seconded. Looking back to the old-timers at whose feet I grew up, very few of them engaged in "overthinking" stuff. Right now so much "overthinking" is going on that the "intellectual" community sound like they inhabit a totally different planet. "Well-adjusted" people used to find their comfort zone and be productive without trying to alter language to set up alternate realities.

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  4. “A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.” — E. F. Schumacker

    “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” — Henry David Thoreau

    “Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.” – Plato

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  5. Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau
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    Although complexity may be fascinating, I constantly return to simplifying.

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    1. I agree. I wonder if people's focusing on the complexity of detail is an attempt to fill their meaningless lives with distraction. Some folks buy the same, high-quality items, year after year, so that they don't have to think about them anymore.

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  6. I read through this post a few times and found paragraph four most relatable. I took a part time job in a (rare) bustling antique shop this year. The truly interesting pieces that caught everyone's attention were indeed those that gave evidence of someone having dug deeply into the simple. For example, the wooden sewing chest neatly organized with all the supplies that might be needed for any task of constructing or mending, or boxed collections of fishing lures, all differently tied and neatly stowed for fly-fishing. I do see that quality of "digging deeply" in my own kids, and sometimes I think the things they dig into are, well, silly. Now I'm thinking, perhaps, that it gives them something more in common with those who came before than with me.

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  7. There is space in our lives for both simplicity and complexity in balance. For one to dominate the other caused disharmony. Why would we choose total simplicity or the fever of endless complexity? A highly detailed project when completed generates great satisfaction; the same is true for a trusted cup of our favorite beverage or a simple basic task completed well. I truly appreciate the way this website invites us to address these issues.

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