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two points

From: James Souttar <ancient-AT-urizen.com>
Date: 11 Mar 2004 17:28:40 UTC   (05:28:40 PM in author's locale)
To: "The Graphics List" <graphics-AT-lists.graphicslist.org>

>What I would miss most is probably the two points in every
>design-project that I dealt with:
>1) there always seems to be one point at which a complete project is
>on the brink of collapse. One wrong remark can stop all progress and
>terminate the co-operation. I would miss that tension and the
>satisfaction of nudging a project into the 'right direction'.

I found this a really interesting observation (which totally accords
with my experience, even if I'm not sure I'd miss this experience all
that much... ;)

Many years ago a friend, who was an avid reader of Gurdjieff (whose
work I'm afraid I always found totally impenetrable) explained this
to me in terms of the intervals in the octave. Not being in the least
musical, I can't vouch for how accurate the analogy is. But he
pointed out that the interval between mi and fa is in some way, which
I'm not sure I grasped even then, discontinuous. And that to cross
this interval requires a 'gear shift', as it were.

Be that as it may, I have found that most projects do hit a point
where they are on the point of faltering. Usually because someone
suddenly throws something in that threatens to derail them
completely: a legal or practical objection, the discovery that
there's not enough money in the budget, some initiative elsewhere
that is working on the same thing, or just plain old human negativity.

I've been through this enough times now to be able to advise clients
- who often don't seem to have experienced it before - that if they
can just keep faith and maintain their original intention, the thing
that seems like an insurmountable objection now will disappear as
suddenly as it appeared. But somehow there seems to be a need for a
project to overcome this point for it to be able to succeed - not all
projects, but most in my experience. And one can never really predict
where the obstacle is going to come from. But come, it will.

>2) in any design project, there is also a point in which all threats
>seem to come together visually (or where all pieces of the puzzle
>get their position). I'm not sure if other professions have a
>similar experience.

Again, this seems to be another regular - if rather mysterious -
moment, the point when what seemed like a collection of disparate
elements coalesces into some kind of whole. Again, I've learned
simply to trust that it will happen, without worrying too much about
how or why or when.

One thing that helped enormously to bolster my confidence in what is
otherwise a totally unpredictable process was hearing a story about
the famous family therapist Robin Skinner (the chap who collaborated
with John Cleese on those 'your family and how to survive it' books).
Apparently Skinner used to say that each time he sat down with a new
family, he had absolutely no idea how he was supposed to help them.
But that he had been through this enough times to be certain that,
after listening to them for half an hour or so, the answer would come
to him.

These days each time I meet with a new client that story comes to mind!


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