Tools, Ideas, and The Fools Who Wait For Them

It’s not in the Draftsmanship. It’s in the man. Like I say, a tool is dead. A brush is a dead object. It’s in the man. If you want to do it, do it.” - Jack Kirby

I’m at the point in my life where I thought I’d have a better idea of what I’m doing (ie. middle age). I’m making things up now, sure, but eventually I’ll have a handle on it and that certitude would translate into some measure of self actualization. Lol. No. That’s not been the experience so far. There are scraps of insight that fall into place though, and cast the last 28 years of creative hang-ups in completely different lights. The Tool Fallacy was one of those.

I watched the Tool Fallacy video twice at work and then another time with the spouse. It was very good.

Tools have always been a sticking point for me, a reason to “wait.” But more than that, I think I’ve fallen into a sister-fallacy of the above that I’ll call “The Idea Fallacy.” And that’s because I’ve never had an idea I believed in enough to throw everything else to the side and demand that others pay attention. Not the way that people at the companies that I worked for could; the founders, the CEOs, even the managers, all seemed to have a much crisper, clearer understanding of priorities, and importance than I did. It was easier to make their thing, than mine. If it failed, it was on them. It was ultimately not a reflection of my core value as a person, but theirs (whoever “their’s” was, be it a faceless corporation or a 28-year-old founder with an obvious coke habit).

I’m deeply uncomfortable with personal projects. It might be after over a decade in the work force, putting the blinders on and being trained to spec so heavily in professional output, but that’s the easy way out. And I’ve always had something going on the side; something project I’ve puttered on, but “puttered” is the painfully articulate descriptor. “Puttered” because they’ve never felt urgent. I have a very high capacity for ambiguity at work; why does this not translate to an appetite for ownership and ambiguity in my personal life, for my personal objects?

The closer you hold something, the worse you feel when it’s of a bad, or even unknown quality. I think I get why so many floppy comics on the stands these days feel like simple, easy, high-concept bullshit (Cheesy Pop Culture + Social Anxiety seems to be the simple formula most new series follow. “It’s Ninjas + Consumerist Culture! It’s Vampires + Trump’s America! etc”). I don’t get a strong sense of a philosophy or a personal truth undergirding the flimsy conception though - we’re stuck in a paper-thin pop culture where everything must be a reference of a reference of a zeitgeist 10 years past that we’ve got nostalgia for. It’s either to crank the elevator pitch mad-libs than find something in your core and pitch it out into the ether where most of the audience is just confused this isn’t Batman + Class Warfare.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I just wanted to share the realization above. Maybe you’ll find it helpful, maybe I’ll sound crazy, either way, it’s a small step towards taking something that’s banging around in my basement and giving it some light.

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