Idea expiration

2023-12-13 @Creative

Go figure. Ideas seem to expire. I’m thinking of ideas for writing: creative or otherwise. Although you could generalize to the broader spectrum.

Some ideas are best served hot. Some are okay cold.

Some can be refrigerated. Or even frozen. These you’ll have to later thaw. This may take time.

Certes: what were they thinking today at that awfully peculiar beach tavern? A beach not of sand, but rock. That coconut composed of, not coconut fluid, but coconut ice cubes in no rush to resume their original composition? (Even Brazilian thermodynamics take a slow pace.) An awkward plaint soon produced a replacement product, sure … But how unsportsmanlike!

That goes to say, don’t utter frozen punchlines to a sizzling audience.

Long stored ideas might demand reheating and further seasoning to really impact. These are gradual processes.

Some, once stale, don’t serve but for compostage.

The more organic the idea, the more sensitive to decomposition. Which is why you rarely see me address the hot subjects: politics, sports, current events. Too hectic of a life cycle. Too ephemeral.

And I don’t care for at least 95% of the extent to which such topics undergo scruple. Probably closer to 99%, a few percentage points in service for moral misalignment.

I’m more interested in that which delivers not only today, but 5-10 years since, or even hundreds, come fundamental philosophical and moral values.

And I’m likewise at least as interested in the older, if not the ancient: literature, music and the arts go without saying. Politics, hardly, but for the historical context therein derived. But I generally wait several centuries after the event, matters already filtered and separated from the much confabulating noise.

Take the Italian politics of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Still hardly care. But at least the poetry is sound.

I’ve accumulated inexhaustible drafts or lists of writing topics. Many don’t see the light of day. Never get to them.

Or some reengaged many months after inception. And even so, it’s not always possible. That is, to resume the train of thought as if the idea struck just then. Not without some profound meditation and oriental tempering, at the least.

For some long archived ideas, interest wanes. You’ve certainly heard of no few a musical act to become disenchanted with the earlier style of composition. Especially characteristic of the chameleons, ie Miles Davis, David Bowie, Radiohead. Or Stravinsky. Or the painters … Picasso for sure. Too many to survey.

But how to really establish idea validity? Be it a hard expiration? What is the rate of spoilage, and over how great a margin before warranting decommission?

I can’t answer all your questions. Don’t pester. (Speaking to my soul.)

But some heuristics nonetheless avail, albeit individual:

Though obsessed over Yerba Mate (to the point of writing a few quatrains of verse), the craze feels way too organic. Not sure if it is to receive like treatment in a decade.

Musical subjects, though to a lesser extent, still taste a bit earthy.

Literature, now, that ain’t goin' nowhere.

Among the categories I typically address, travels are best served hot. Yet I’ve a tendency to forego reportage until some unduly point many months after, when it tastes like refried stew.

Right now, for instance I’m (again) in Salvador, Brazil. But I’ve yet to address the Portugal escapades from back in May.

Beyond that, I’m presently on a different wavelength. Less enthralled by surroundings; less exploration oriented; more vested in writing. And not travel writing. So much for those ideas.

To think of it, N. N. Taleb derived a handy metric concerning lifetime estimation of non-organic entities: the Lindy Effect. In this case, organic pertains more strictly to biological phenomena. Everything else: ideas, masonry, technology, trends, art popularity, etc, that is, the non-organics, cater to the following heuristic:

With 95% (or similarly high) probability, the non-naturally decaying entity, provided it indeed lives and thrives, will continue on for as many more years. That is, it finds itself, probabilistically, at no greater than half-life.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita … Something of that sort …

For instance, anything of five years back that still captures your interest, is likely to do the same five years hence. But nothing of five minutes back lends to any useful prognostication beyond dinner time.

Hence some sages counsel against rash decisions. But I tend to face the opposite risk: of neglect, if not plain idea sabotage.

Questions, comments? Connect.