Conform to rebel

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. Pablo Picasso

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
Pablo Picasso

In any endeavour you must learn the rules before you can break them.  You cannot be taken seriously as an abstract artist if you cannot demonstrate an ability to paint figuratively.  The painting above, the Boy with a Pipe, is ostensibly the point at which Picasso surpassed the rules and began to create.  But first you must learn the rules.

The same is true in the workplace, on the battlefield, in society, everywhere.  You learn how the business works before you design a new way of running a business.  Brilliance is only possible because it stands above established convention.  We learn our craft, perfect it and only then can we become creative and break all the rules we have learned.  You cannot break a rule if you don’t know it exists.

A musician must know what a chord is to create discord, must master tempo to break the beat and must be able to harmonise before he can clash with conformity.

Poetry is a great example.  The world is overflowing with the formless and impassioned musings of millions of would-be poets.  So few of them ever recognised beyond their own bedroom.  But then, how many of them have taken their first creative outpouring of inspiration and forged it into a form?  How many of them have hammered it into a haiku, shaped it into a sonnet, riveted it into a rondeau or beaten it into a bergerette?  They hold up their part smelted pig and expect us to see tempered steel.

To be great you must create, and you must conform.  Then you can to expand your creativity so that it strains the limits of conformity and reshapes the very rules that have given it structure and meaning.  Great change comes from first understanding the rules, and then mastering the rules and finally breaking down the rules.

This is why political revolution comes from hard-line extremists and not from moderates.  F.W. de Klerk needed to master Apartheid rule before he could break it.  David Trimble had to master Unionist rule before he could  be seen speaking with the IRA.  Gerry Adams had to refuse to negotiate with Britain before he could begin a conversation with the British Government.

Here is a little known Medieval French poetic form rendered by an Algerian Pied-Noir.

Triolet With A Line; by Jean Sénac

Come walk with me under the low-slung stars
until the birds are buried again inside our blood,
sewn in with fishing line, leaving a jagged scar.
Come walk with me under the low-slung stars
while our love smolders like a thick cigar.
Our time swells and ends, fast as a flash flood.
Come hold me under the low-slung stars
until the birds are buried again inside our blood.

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