¨I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited, all my ancestors…¨
— Jorge Luis Borges
Carved into the temple, Oracle of Delphi, in the classical Greek world, were three phrases, one of which was meden agan and that tells ´nothing in excess´.
The style is not the man himself but the man he is talking to. The beauty is not in the eye of the beholder but in the eye of the beholden. It seemingly echoes the logical opposite whether ¨art for art´s sake¨ or ¨art for men´s sake.¨
A professor of economics, David Walter Galenson, has showed in his research writing of Old Masters and Young Geniuses the two life cycles of artistic creativity: experimental innovators and conceptual innovators. Experimental innovators run by trial and error, and come to their seminal contributions gradually, most often late in life. Conceptual innovators, on the other hand, make sudden breakthroughs by creating new ideas, usually at an early age. The two great painters: Paul Cezanne, the torch-bearer of modern art, and Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century can be of good example to illustrate the two different artistic creativity. Cezanne was an experimental innovator, and Picasso was an conceptual innovator.
Experimental innovators seek and conceptual innovators find. Tolstoy´s mumbled words to his daughter Alexandra just a few days before his death was: ¨To seek, always to seek.¨ Tolstoy was a Cezanne, Paul Cezanne, who has learned through repition and exploration, accompanied by intense sufferings and endless torments. Tolstoy, therefore, was an experimental innovator. It is as easy to recognize the genius of Picasso, as it is that hard to recognize the genius of Cezanne.
Tolstoy believed in the celebration of life, celebration of life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations. What works in man´s life haunted Tolstoy throught his life; he thought about- plans, imagination, rupture, love, family, courage, death, perseverance, truth and the list goes on. Tolstoy´s philosophy on plans reflects that the characteristics who come to recognize how little they know about what will happen, are actually the ones who know the most. As soon as man interacts with real life, his ideas and plans disintegrate, and fall apart.
Tolstoy created Kutuzov, a character in the novel War and Peace, where Kutuzov was in his sixties at the time, with a long military and diplomatic career behind him; and one thing was peculiar to him, he had sufficient humility to set aside all of his ¨knowledge¨ when necessary, letting go of preconceived assumptions and notions about how things are supposed to go on the field of battle, and embracing instead what is occuring right in front of him. It is called ¨being in the moment¨. Buddhists call it ¨non-attachment to concepts¨. Tolstoy believes it simply as the way to living wisely, and leading effectively in a black swan world. Once man thought only about white swan´s presence, but when he discovered the presence of a black swan, of which he had no idea, was compelled to revise his beliefs and to recognize that one single observation of a deviation might change the way we have thought.
About imagination, all Tolstoy knew was a bold and childlike mind that is unafraid to experiment with new forms, break some rules and tell the truth. War and Peace has been criticised whether it is a novel at all, as its critics said: the novel lacks coherent beginning, middle, and end; one event has no match with the subsequent ones. Tolstoy, in reply, said: has life any coherence through the beginning, middle, and end? Does life´s one event have perfect, coherent match with the subsequent ones? Why then should a novel have such a perfection that is too alien to life itself?
Tolstoy wanted us to see War and Peace not as a novel but as a celebration of life, life as it is, in its rawest forms. Life, this way, flows spontaneously, with its natural flow; and in this way, it embraces all the forces of change: both the driving and the restraining ones.
A saying goes: Old accountants never die, they just lose their balance. We have a perfect Balanced scorecard, a place for everything and everything in its place, and yet we lose balance! Losing balance, does it always bad? And how do we know it?
Plans and Balanced scorecards may very well not work, but still they are well worth doing anyway, as the aphorism goes ¨meden agan¨, nothing in excess.
Our great poet, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a contemporary of Tolstoy (and I have a hunch that Madhusudan was an experimental innovator like Tolstoy and Cezanne), composed:????-?????? ??? ???-?????? ???? ????,????? ??????