Curatorview [Alfredo Cramerotti]

On Failure

Posted in shortEssays/cortiSaggi [English/Italian] by Curatorview on September 20, 2010

Video, sound essay, 15 min, on the downsides, prestiges and spaces of failure, via the figure of Orson Welles, who is paradigmatic for his relationship with failure. Among our contemporaries, failure has no space, no room for development –in other words – it should not exist.

But failure is a precious space where we can stretch our boundaries and experiment with another dimension of living. At this point, most of you will feel the urge to ask why should we fail. It’s not that we should fail in order to live better. Rather I believe we should allow ourselves the space, the mental dimension, of failure.

Welles is considered not for what he manage to realize in relation to his non-materialized ideas, rather for the way he – through the notion of failure – involuntarily played a game according to his rules.

Simplicity

Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on November 10, 2007

This is something I have written on ten pages A4, taped to the wall opposite my desk, to create a vertical totem. First of all, it’s not mine. the laws of simplicity have been nurtured and published in a marvellously-crafted little book by John Maeda, ex-MIT design guru.

But it’s not to talk about him that I started this post. It’s to give you a precious tool, the first of the series to come, which goes like that: do simplify whatever can get simplified.

At the cost of seeming banal, do take the path of simplicity in whatever you are doing, or planning to do. You’ll always be in time to complicate the matter, personally or through someone else. If you want to get close (at least) to achieve what you are planning, cut the 30% of your planned expectations, and consequently reduce to at least 50% your planned actions.

This is not a call for banality. It’s a call for concreteness. And getting concrete, means having results. Having results, means producing consequences. Producing consequences, means injecting stimuli for another projects, and future achievements. Not to mention that, having finished a work, means getting paid. Sounds good, uh?

Here are the 10 laws on a string: for more details, visit the lawsofsimplicity website:

First round – the basics to get simple:

1. Reduce: either shrink, hide, or embody (the simplest way to achive simplicity is through thoughtful reduction: when in doubt, just remove – carefully). Lessen what you can and conceal everything else without losing the sense of inherent value.

2. Organize: sort, label, integrate, prioritize (organization makes a system of many appear fewer: and working with fewer – objects, concepts, functions – makes life simpler). Everything is important, but knowing where to start is the critical first step.

3. Time: again – shrink, hide, embody (savings in time feels like simplicity: this is really about reducing time). When time is saved – or appears to have been – the complex feels simpler.

Second round – here comes the hard work:

4. Learn: basics are the beginning, repeat yourself often, avoid creating desperation, inspire with examples, never forget to repeat yourself (to easing the process of understanding: relate – translate – surprise!). Difficult tasks seem easier when they are ‘need to know’ rather than ‘nice to know’, so connect deeply to the greater context of learning and life.

5. Differences: simplicity and complexity need each other (acknowledging contrast helps to identify qualities that we desire). Figuring out the rhythm of how simplicity and complexity occur in time and space holds the key.

6. Context: what lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral (ambience: that which appears to be of immediate relevance may not be nearly as important compared to everything else around). When there is less, we appreciate everything much more.

Third round – if you are aspire at changing the world (almost):

7. Emotion: more emotions are better than less (just the right kind of more: ‘feel, and feel for’). Achieving clarity isn’t difficult. The true challenge is achieving comfort.

8. Trust: in simplicity we trust (lean back, and trust the water. And just enjoy something). Trust unquestionably, but be open to undo-ing that trust whenever deserved.

9. Failure: some things can never be made simple (knowing that simplicity is elusive in certain cases is an opportunity to make more constructive use of your time in the future, instead of chasing after an apparent impossible goal). One man’s failed experiment in simplicity can be another man’s success as a beautiful form of complexity.

A final Intuition:

10. The one: simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful

(which may be ‘coupled’ with 4 more keys in attempting simplicity, such as: more appears like less by removing it far away / openness simplifies complexity / power: use less, gain more / technology, as professions, can disable the average person.)

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Failure

Posted in shortEssays/cortiSaggi [English/Italian], Thoughts.Coaching by Curatorview on October 29, 2007

Since it makes uncomfortable, failure among our contemporaries has no space. No room for development. No room for address. Failure –in other words– should not exist, according to the present society. Do we feel the same? We shouldn’t, of course. Theoretically each of us allows a margin of failure in life. But maybe not this time, we tell ourselves…

We feel that if we fail here (and now), we could jeopardize our future credibility. For instance, from where I stand it’s impossible to talk about failure in a positive sense, nor develop a notion of failure, without suspicion for whom is reading and/or approaching me.

We set our expectations on a high level, and we don’t even consider the possibility of not achieving them: and this works also for the expectation in the others. If I say to you than this space about coaching creative people could be a failure in pursuing its goal, you get immediately on-guard.

Hence, what is important in any activity, professional or personal, for duty or leisure, for ourselves and the others, is to attempt to dispense with the error-phobia that envelop us in a perennial mist. Not only we are scared of failing, in physical and mental terms, sometimes we even set up mechanisms of self-censorship. We don’t even allow ourselves to think we could fail, and things could go wrong. What does exactly mean things could go wrong?

When we expect something from someone else or some situation, we want to enjoy the most of it. We get ideas; we plan them, put to work and enjoy the results. Still, the possibility to fail is not harming anything. Failure is a precious space where we can stretch our boundaries and experiment with another dimension of living. In this sense, failure is a vital component of our experience of life.

I bet most of you feel now the urge to ask why should we fail? It’s not that we should fail in order to live better. We should simply allow ourselves the space, the mental dimension, of failure. We live in a win-win society, where one cannot afford to step into something wrong. For instance, we cannot bear the thought to lose our time following someone or something, which in the end disappears and leave us alone. This can happen in love as well as business.

In our deeds we invest feelings, time, money, and precisely because it’s an ‘investment’ we expect something back. A return, some results. We cannot conceive an action freed from expected effects, freed from the obligation to avoid errors. It hurts us to see and to think about our failure. We can bear only someone else’s failure. And we don’t want to be that someone else.

There’s a school of thought arguing that there’s no right to fail, but a duty to experiment. Fine. Does it mean that an experiment cannot fail? Why do we take away the word ‘fail’? We fail in studies, jobs, loves. We fail permanently, as well as succeeding. In writing these lines, I’m probably failing to communicate exactly my thoughts to you, completely or to some extent.

I fail a lot, as well as not. And I fail sometimes because I’m overly generating, and couldn’t fit everything in place and in time. Other times because I wasn’t able to carry out a commitment, or didn’t feel like, and my project, or task, collapsed on itself for obvious lack of will, time and resources. Other times again, I fail because I initiated something already doubtful, and it went worse and worse.

And in some occasions I managed to successfully complete something totally different from what I started. Is that a failure?

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