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Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

Preparing for Take-Off: Destination - Anywhere, Arrival Time -: Unknown

May 17 2015

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done? 

The future ain’t what it used to be.

                                                                        Yogi Berra

CATCH-22, as depicted in the novel by Joseph Heller of that title and equally terrific movie from it, is when a pilot had to be diagnosed as crazy to be removed from flying combat missions, BUT … the very fact that he wanted to be removed PROVED that he was sane, so of course it was IMPOSSIBLE to be removed, no matter how crazy the stress of combat was making someone.  In other words, we have the prototypical self-defeating situation.
A common, self-inflicted variation of this is being unable to do something because you don’t know where to begin, which often gets labeled as procrastination, when in reality “Haste makes waste” every bit as often and direly as “He who hesitates is lost.”  There is something to be said for getting one's ducks lined up.  David Whyte wrote brilliantly in The Heart Aroused of a Native American parable about never being lost, which however presumes having sufficient command of one's faculties and wilderness survival to find one's way out of forests.  Small comfort to the thousands who perish there each year, and the countless millions more who lack his skill at using The Lessons of the Masters to find their way through life.  What I am proposing, for the umpteenth time, is that The Lessons of the Masters isn’t the overt lessons, themselves, but The Way they derive them from their command of The Uniform Structure of Information.
I have already mentioned more than once where and how to begin: acquiring the skill of formulating events anecdotally, as a matter of course, so prior knowledge and experience comes to mind readily to address the many faces and facets of life's challenges.  An old friend feared  that he had never done the bulk of what he set out to do because he lacked self-esteem.  I’d prodded him for decades to study the masters The Way I am teaching how to go about it—not necessarily all of Moby Dick or Crime and Punishment; the masters wrote many short works that exemplify their methods—instead of reading book after book about how to overcome low self-esteem and write screenplays, as he hoped to do, that leave you empty-handed when you get right down to writing one with all the character, actions, setting, and time frame details on intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and tangible planes, in the appropriate magnification, depth, intensity, and clarity—or absence of either—for every scene. 
Ironically, in the case of people who avoid reading the masters, pretty much every classic is at least in part about someone recognizing that they do deceive themselves, and correcting it precisely the way I am laying out, like Huck learning from the river to see the runaway slave, Jim, in a new light, for example.  Often, the point of that aspect of a classic is someone’s very inability to recognize their self-deception, like Madame Bovary’s renowned imperceptivity leading to her ruin, but that too is demonstrated through manipulations of The Uniform Structure of Information.
You can’t modify what you do unless you can monitor it from outside as the narrator of all the anecdotes within it.  The analogies that spring from them put events in proportion, and your identity with them.  It’s normal to feel like a speck in the universe; it isn’t, to let that keep you from leaving your mark on the world, or do everything you can to make the most of your time here.
Wikipedia has an article about Catch-22 that explains the dilemma in greater depth.  The section that stopped me in my tracks is under the heading, “Deadlocks.” 

“A deadlock is a condition whereby two competing processes are each waiting for a resource which the other has control over.  Each process will only release the resource it has control over after it has received control over the process it is waiting for.”

Anyone who ever played any kind of game as a child knows that several skills are involved in every one of them, which you learn simultaneously, getting better at different ones at different stages of learning the game.  The Trick of All Tricks is learning to apply how you learn one to the others—and to every other game.  As surely as the evidence of our ascension from fish, amphibians, and reptiles remain within us, so does every lesson in our individual evolution—if we have the skills to retrieve them in a heartbeat.   
Every creature has the innate capacity for subterfuge and deception as a survival mechanism; nor are we alone in allowing that all too often to backfire on us and allow self-deception to subvert our own goals.  Not much point to lining up one's ducks if one doesn't knock down at least a few.  The problem is compounded when someone “thinks” they need to find the source of the problem and resolve that, then deal with the situation, itself.  Catch-22 SQUARED!
Since more of our well-being in every facet of life hinges on learning and communicating than anything else, it is as crazy not to learn everything about it that you can as being a plumber of mechanic and not knowing how to use the tools of those trades.  In just the first and last sentences of a blog post called “Internet of Things” in The Robin Report , I noticed several exemplary uses of The Uniform Structure of Information:

“If you think the tsunami of new technologies, more spectacular one day after another, are now within your grasp of understanding, and soon to be mastered in implementation, do not pat yourself on the back and take a breather… So, the bottom line on the bottom line is that Moore’s law keeps reminding us that not only can we not slow the “technology train,” if we don’t jump on it, as it gains speed, it will simply barrel over the top of us, crushing those businesses that have no ability to stand in its way.”

Way back in “The Lessons Within the Lesson” post, I discussed a book called How Fiction Works, by James Wood.  The last sentence drives my point home again: 

“The true writer, that free servant of life, is one who must always be acting as if life were a category beyond anything the novel had yet grasped; as if life itself were always on the verge of becoming conventional.”

It is, not just for the true writer, but everyone, whether they ever write a word hoping it will be published.  Who hasn't heard it said—or experienced—that Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction? 
The point isn't whether what really occurs is any criteria for including it in fiction, but that reading what the masters do include sharpens someone's powers of observation and provides an external frame of reference for reacting to what occurs as objectively as the masters depict it: literally, as the author of one's destiny.  If someone has to look very far to confirm that life conforms to conventions, their eyes haven't been open for a loooong time.  Every life is fraught with such situations; all too few people have the composition skill to see them through, so they rarely get to see how they conform to conventions. 
However, as I've mentioned in different veins, which is worth repeating: if the same way you’ve been learning for years that common characteristics among all kinds of things identifies their properties, and the ONE THING in common among ALL authors is the PROCESS they use to explain their ideas, which of course reveals how those authors actually THINK, now at least you KNOW what the information you need to UNLOCK deadlocks IS.   Welcome to REALITY. 

Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

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