The left side of your brain wants perfect symmetry, but in the words of Francis Bacon 400 years ago,
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”
In chaos theory, this “strangeness in the proportion” is called the strange attractor and it triggers a level of organization so vast the human mind cannot contain it. (Chaos, in science, does not mean randomness but precisely the opposite.)
Perfect symmetry is predictable. Consequently, it has no style.
Randomness never resolves into meaning. Consequently, it makes no statement.
Beauty – meaningful style – is essentially off-balance symmetry: something is wrong, but somehow it fits.
Flaws, mistakes, anomalies, gaps and disturbances are the essential elements of style.
Look for a moment at the image at the top of this page. There are several things wrong with it, but each of these is unconsciously – or consciously – reconciled in your mind.
These are a few of the wrong or off-balance things:
1. The upper left triangle is slightly higher than the one on the right.
2. The capital letter A in Academy lacks a crossbar. It also drops slightly below the line of the other letters.
3. The left leg of the W in wizard is too long.
4. There is a single star in the sky.
But then your mind begins to see how these mistakes fit a bigger pattern.
1. The negative space between the triangles forms an implied W whose left leg is slightly longer than the one on the right, a perfect echo of the W in wizard.
2. The center peak of this negative space W is also the top of the letter A, whose legs extend in the imagination to a point slightly below the line on which the W sits. This echos the placement of the A in Academy.
3. The missing crossbar in the letter A prompts you to see how it echos the implied A in the negative space. (If the A in Academy had a crossbar, we would need to see that crossbar as a black line running through the middle of the lower white triangle.) Consequently, we see in our minds a black W A implied by the triangles.
4. In the minds of the cognoscenti of the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop, the three out-of-balance triangles immediately imply “third gravitating bodies,” our trigger for chaos. The fact that the cognoscenti will notice this immediately when other people don’t will be something of a secret handshake among them.
5. The three triangles are arranged in the classic position of the three wise men (wise-ards) who followed a star to Bethlehem 2000 years ago.
6. This star also recalls our hero Don Quixote who sings the anthem of Wizard Academy,
This is my quest: to follow that star,
no matter how hopeless, no matter how far…”
– The Impossible Dream, from Man of La Mancha
The three images of Indiana Beagle aren’t part of the Wizard Academy logo. Indy is the mascot of the Monday Morning Memo and is not an official icon of the Academy. He just dressed up as Goals, Frank-sent-this and Mirth to help illustrate the “wise men” connection.
If you’ve ever attended a class at Wizard Academy, you understand. The crown and the rose represent the goals you bring with you. The cowboy hat and the sword represent the marvelous things you receive from your fellow students during mealtimes, at breaks, and in the evenings after classes. The propeller beanie represents the quirky nerd science and humor that is part of every class.*
I’m sorry if I have explained the obvious. It wasn’t my intention to be tedious. My goal was merely to encourage you not to be afraid of imperfections.
Flaws – presented with confidence and restraint – are the essence of style.
Roy H. Williams
PS – But don’t take a good thing too far. In the words of our audio producer, Dave Nevland, “There’s a fine line between ‘lack of skill’ and ‘personal style.’” Competence is important. Restraint is the key.
* If you want to dive deep into the image, the propeller beanie has red, yellow and blue panels across the crown (the 3 primaries of subtractive color, the reflected light we see from paints, inks and dyes) while the bill of the cap is green, (the third primary of additive color – RGB, red, green and blue – the projected light we see from television screens and computer monitors.) Did you know that yellow light is created by mixing red light with green? And if you mix red, blue and green light together, you make white light, sunlight? We explore this a bit during Day 2 of the 3-day Magical Worlds Communications Workshop.
Little mermaids are becoming big business. An Australian TV show, H2O: Just Add Water, now airs in more than 120 countries. Little girls, (and big ones, too,) are finding that dreams of underwater beauty can absolutely come true with the help of a new kind of swim fin. Dive into the deep end with roving reporter Rotbart as he investigates the genuine tall tale of Swimfins at MondayMorningRadio.com. Kristie Foster and Ryan Newman are making quite a splash. Meet them. Hear their story. Be encouraged. – Indy