Robert Greene on the importance of ambiguity in creative endeavours

I’m re-reading Robert Green’s The Concise Mastery at the moment. Just now, I was struck by this passage:

Perhaps the greatest impediment to human creativity is the natural decay that sets in over time in any kind of medium or profession. In the sciences or in business, a certain way of thinking or acting that once had success quickly becomes a paradigm, an established procedure. As the years go by, people forget the initial reason for this paradigm and simply follow a lifeless set of techniques. In the arts, someone establishes a style that is new and vibrant, speaking to the particular spirit of the times. It has an edge because it is so different. Soon imitators pop up everywhere. It becomes a fashion, something to conform to, even if the conformity appears to be rebellious and edgy. This can drag on for ten, twenty years; it eventually becomes a cliché, pure style without any real emotion or need. Nothing in culture escapes this deadening dynamic.

This is exactly what I’m trying to get at with the continuum of ambiguity:

Continuum of ambiguity

What Greene refers to as ‘cliché’ is represented in this continuum by what Richard Rorty calls ‘dead metaphors’. We should always be looking for new ways to represent our ideas, rather than be wedded to terms and styles, which always end up out-of-date.

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