Page 1

PA R A D O X : A V I S U A L E S S AY PA R A D O X : A V I S U A L E S S AY


Paradoxes are greater than the sum of their parts. If one and one is three, that last third is the concep ual leap that connects them.


It’s about merging two things that seem incongruent into something that, some how, makes since. To me, it’s probably the highest act of creativity and is the most ready manifestation of curiosity and understanding. It’s mental dexterity made tangible, and it produces the creative output

I respect the most.


JOHN LOCKE Locke argued against the innateness of ideas, and therefore principles. Ye t h e a r g u e d f o r r i g h t s o f i n d i v i d u a l s , w h i c h , i f n o t i n n a t e , d o n o t e x i s t .

It is a paradox.


Furthermore, summing up the totality of the work in one statement is more memorable. “I must b e c r u e l t o b e k i n d � i s a f a m o u s s t a t e m e n t t h a t h a s t r a n s c e n d e d h i s t o r y, w h e t h e r o r n o t p e o p l e know where the words originally came from. To k n o w h o w s q u a r e p e g s c a n g o i n t o r o u n d h o l e s i s t o u n d e r s t a n d that the world, and the perception of it, is a play-thing.

The world, and how we view it, is malleable.


A m u s e m e n t i s o n e o f t h e b e s t p a r t s o f p a r a d oxe s b u t t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n i s w i d e r a n d m o re i m p o r t a n t I t h i n k a n i n c re a s e d t o le r a n c e f o r p a r a d ox i s a c r u c i a l re q u i re m e n t f o r a p e r s o n t o b e a b le t o c o p e w i t h t h e w o r l d t o d a y. O u r a c c e s s t o i n f o r m a t i o n h a s c re a t e d m o re p a r a d oxe s . We ’ v e m a d e p i e c e s o f c o n f l i c t i n g i n f o r m a t i o n m o re a c c e s s i b le t h a n a n y o t h e r p o i n t i n t i m e U n f o r t u n a t e ly , w e ’ v e m i s t a k e n c y n i c i s m a s t h e t o o l w e n e e d t o c o p e w i t h t h i s c o n f l i c t o f i n f o r m a t i o n . I t s e e m s m u c h m o re h e a l t h y t o m e t o a c c e p t t h a t t w o p i e c e s o f c o n t r a d i c t i n g i n f o r m a t i o n c a n b o t h s o m e h o w b e t r u e . I t re m o v e s t h a t d e f a u l t s t a t e o f d i s t r u s t , a n d d i s p l a c e s i t w i t h a c k n o w le d g e m e n t , re s p e c t a n d i n s i g h t . T h i n g s a re n ’ t b l a c k a n d w h i t e . T h e y a re g r a y. We ’ re g r a y.

Things aren’t b l a c k a n d w h i te . They are gra y. We ’ re g ra y.


IMMANUEL KANT

Kant turned philosophy sunny side up with his transcendental idealism, wherein he declared an internal object o f k n o w l e d g e t h a t e x i s t s w i t h o u t o u r h a v i n g i m p l e m e n t i n g i t , o r e v e n k n o w i n g a b o u t i t ’s i m p l e m e n t a t i o n . This is a paradox only to Natural Materialists, who cannot deny the logic but cannot comprehend anything transcendental.

So the paradox is really the Natural Materialist Paradox, wherein transcendental effects are both proven and denied.


Often times paradox and absurdity are m i s t a k e n f o r o n e a n o t h e r.

Tw o i n c o n g r u e n t t h i n g s a r e p l a c e d s i d e - b y - s i d e .


How do we sort out the paradox that even though the our consumption lifestyle is causing global warming, most people are unlikely to change their buying habits? Or the paradox that we make decisions that fill our lives with more minutia, but the more bits we’re surrounded with, the p o o r e r d e c i s i o n s w e m a k e ? O r h o w a b o u t t h e p a r a d o x t h a t e v e n t h o u g h o u r h y p e r- c o n n e c t e d w o r l d exposes us to more conflicting view points, we actually become more narrow-minded because we choose places where others only agree with us?

Every game needs rules, and every successful framework for improvisation has limitations. These limitations can be internal to let the creative get to work, but can also manifest outward to act as rules of engagement for contributors

Many of the greats used pseudo-structures when working.

and participants.

Vivaldi wrote four violin concertos: one for each season. S h a k e s p e a r e ’s s o n n e t s f o l l o w a s p e c i f i c r h y m i n g s c h e m e

Limitations can be useful to help a creator or contributor

a n d a r e a l w a y s 1 4 l i n e s . D u r i n g P i c a s s o ’s b l u e p e r i o d , h e

begin working in a general direction, then, use the feed-

e s s e n t i a l l y o n l y p a i n t e d m o n o c h r o m a t i c a l l y. T h e r e a r e a l s o

back of the process to steer their decision making. This

a m p l e e x a m p l e s o f l i m i t a t i o n s b e i n g u s e d t o f r a m e u s e r ’s

is how improv theater works. Most sketches begin with a

c o n t r i b u t i o n s , s u c h a s Tw i t t e r ’s c h a r a c t e r l i m i t o n p o s t s

prompt, then the actors let the momentum of the narrative

or the formulaic approach to creating a proper LOLCat. (Oh

snowball by working off of the limitation of the prompt and

h a i . ) M i r a n d a J u l y a n d H a r r e l l F l e t c h e r ’s L e a r n i n g t o L o v e

any rules the improv game may have.

Yo u M o r e i s a p r o j e c t m a d e o f a s e r i e s o f p s e u d o - s t r u c t u r e s that asks contributors to complete the task, document the

The utility of restraints is that they give the participants

results, then submit them to share online.

common-footing, which allows them to get started. Mot i v a t i o n d o e s n ’ t d i s a p p e a r, i t e v a p o r a t e s , a n d t h i s s e e m s

The restrictions of a pseudo-structure can take many

crucial when a designer is either trying to get to work,

shapes. They can be conceptual, where the restrictions de-

or is working to ensure their users remain engaged. One

termine the subject matter of the work. Limitations can also

strategy is to create a purposeful set of limitations I like

be structural, where compositional restrictions are created.

to call a “pseudo-structure.” Pseudo-structures act as a

( S u c h a s S h a k e s p e a r e ’s s o n n e t s , Tw i t t e r ’s c h a r a c t e r l i m i t ,

framework for creative activity and improvisation. Limita-

or choreographing a dance where the dancer doesn’t step

tions are the playground of a creative mind. They are a

outside of a specific space.)

latticework on which to hang ideas. When choosing limitations, the designer needs to be careful to not make them too—well—limiting. The idea is to use t h e p s e u d o - s t r u c t u r e s t o p r o m o t e a c t i v i t y, n o t s u p p r e s s i t . W h e n d o n e c o r r e c t l y, l i m i t a t i o n s c a n b e u s e d a s a t o o l to overcome the gap between finding the desire to do s o m e t h i n g a n d k n o w i n g w h e r e t o p u t o n e ’s e f f o r t s . A g o o d limitation makes the contributor feel like they are already halfway done: all that is left to do is to sort out the details and execute their idea.


AUGUSTE COMTE

The philosophy of Comte became the religion of Humanism. Comte denied that any divinity or a b s o l u t e n e s s f r o m G o d c o u l d b e f o u n d i n m a n ’s s o u l . Ye t h e d e c l a r e d t h a t m a n , o r m a n k i n d , w a s e s s e n t i a l l y d i v i n e . To d e n y d i v i n i t y a n d t h e n declare it in the same entity is in fact a paradox.


Furthermore, summing up the totality of the work in one statement is more memorable. “I m u s t b e c r u e l t o b e k i n d ” i s a f a m o u s s t a t e m e n t t h a t h a s t r a n s c e n d e d h i s t o r y, w h e t h e r o r not people know where the words originally came from.

“Here, look at this thing you didn’t notice.” “Here, consider this thing in a way you haven’t before.” A good paradox broadens our scope as people. It makes us question, but I think it also allows us to accept.


I M P L I C AT I O N S After examining the examples from works of literature, one will see that a paradox is not just a witty or amusing statement. Paradoxes have serious implications in the world of literature, because they make statements that often sum up the the main ideas of the work. What is the purpose of using such a statement then, instead of just f o r t h r i g h t l y s t a t i n g t h e w o r k ’s i n t e n t ? O n e r e a s o n i s t h a t t o d o s o would be boring. It is much more interesting for a reader to carve o u t t h e m e a n i n g , t h a n t o h a v e i t f e d t o t h e m o n a s i l v e r p l a t t e r.


The physical world provides no room for freedom of will. (yet) that concept i s e s s e n t i a l t o o u r m o d e l s o f t h e m e n t a l r e a l m . To o m u c h o f o u r p s y c h o l o g y i s based on it for us ever to give it up. We’re virtually forced to maintain tha belief, even though we know it is false.�

W e k n o w i t i s f a l s e b e c a u s e ? I f w e a r e N a t u r a l i s t s o n l y, t h e n i t i s f a l s e b y d e f i n i t i o n . W e h a v e i n t u i t e d i t s f a l s e n e s s , e v e n t h o u g h we have no empirical justification. We need it to be false, or naturalism is false. We want it to be false. It is our will that there is no free will; a fine paradox.

MARVIN MINSKY


Paradox is all around us. There are more paradoxes than any other point in time. Maybe the most paradoxicall thing is that we need to create even more to understand the ones that are already there. Paradox is all around us.

R e s p o n d a c c o r d i n g l y.


“I’m a compulsive liar” At the most basic level, a paradox is a statement that is self contradictory because it often contains two statements that are both true, but in general, cannot both be true at the same time. In the aforementioned example, can someone be both a compulsive liar yet telling the truth at the same time? Paradox can prove to be very revealing about human nature and the way that we speak. If someone says to you “ I ’ m a c o m p u l s i v e l i a r, ” d o y o u b e l i e v e t h e m o r n o t ? T h a t s t a t e m e n t i n i t s e l f i s a p a r a d o x , b e c a u s e i t i s s e l f c o n t r a d i c t o r y, w h i c h i s p r e c i s e l y w h a t a p a r a d o x i s .


FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE His two major premises had come to him as lightning flashes, visions, revelations during his manic periods. “overman”

T h e y p l a y e d t o g e t h e r i n N i e t z c h e ’s m i n d a s p i l l a r s o f h i s i n f l u e n c e i n t h e w o r l d . T h e y r e q u i r e d e a c h o t h e r. H i s U b e r m e n c h , t h e

to which the human race would evolve and then disappear in the shadows of, and the eternal return cycle that all the universe is embed-

ded within, to relive time and again, a universal, eternal “

becoming”.

Although he had relieved himself of the necessity of non-contradiction by

his famous denial of the first principles, he was nonetheless caught in his contradiction. The human race would occur over and over again, while waiting to evolve into the ubermench

The cycle was an exercise in futility a contradiction, a devastating paradox.


SOURCES

“[CG Textures] - Textures for 3D, Graphic Design and Photoshop!” [CG Textures]. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. <cgtextures.com> Chimero, Frank. “On Paradoxes « Thinking for a Living.” Thinking for a Living RSS. N.p., 29 Jan. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. Chimero, Frank. “Rules of Engagement.” Frank Chimero. Licensed BY-NC-SA Creative Commons, 23 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

Colchester, Chloë. Textiles Today: A Global Survey of Trends and Traditions. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 2007. Print. “Examples of Paradox.” Examples of Paradox. Love To Know, Corp, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

Paradoxes of the Philosophers. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. < http://www.atheism- analyzed.net/Paradoxes%20of%20the%20Philosophers.htm> Speasmaker, Joel. “Mind/Spirit Or, Philosophy as a Tool for Visual Interpretation « Thinking for a Living.” Thinking for a Living RSS. N.p., 31 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. “The Type Directors Club - 28th TDC Annual.” Typography and Design Samples. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.

Designed by Ariel Mull M i c h a e l S e l b y | Ty p o g r a p h y 1 | F a l l 2 0 1 2


Paradox: A Visual Essay  

A visual book that depicts relationships between text and images.

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you