Sunday, July 29, 2012

Medici at the improv

Focus. I admire focus.  Occasionally, I emulate focus.  Far more often, though, my mind flits or races in seemingly random ways, seeing intersections that beckon and distract.  The cost to my ability to stay on track and complete something (anything) is high, but the benefit to my imagination and curiosity is equally high.  And I've been willing to pay the price, largely because I can't seem to function any other way.

So imagine how much fun it is to hear "I have a book for you"...and find that seeing intersections and asking lost of questions is the subject of the book called The Medici Effect.  Part of the appeal of the book is the historical linkage to the Medici family and their influence in making Florence the culture center of Europe around the time of the Renaissance.

Perhaps The Medici Effect explains why I recently sign up for improvisational comedy classes.  That explanation works as well as any other.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

6 + 7 = 22

It's all a story, whether we tell the story with numbers, movement, paint, notes, or words. History, philosophy, genealogy.  We make meaning of our lives through stories, our own and those of others.  We laugh, we cry, we learn from stories.

College students take exception when they hear that there are only seven stories in the world, believing--as every generation believes, despite irrefutable evidence--that they are masters of their unique destinies.  One can't blame them, really, as we no longer put much emphasis on the study of Aristotle's seven characteristics of tragedy or its six component parts.  Nor are we avid readers of Christopher Booker's tome on the seven basic plots and why we feel the need to (re)tell them.

But if one is patient, reasonably informed, and willing to find the teaching moment, the Pixar generation will offer 22 "story basics" to confirm that nothing is really new, from Aristotle's view of the world in about 350 BC to the coolest, hippest storytellers of 2012.  

It sums beautifully.