“You can’t build a brontosaurus rex—or a Ferrari—from a pompek skeleton,” I tell my film-writing class. The lesson is about “structure”. There’re laws of structure. Laws of causation and resolution. Like the laws of gravity— they cannot be disobeyed. How you start will determine how you proceed. In your beginning is your end. A “first principle” is the ultimate starting point. It’s the one principle that cannot be deduced from any other. First causes. The prime mover. The unmoved mover. It’s about origins.
In art and culture it’s about the immortal mythical laws that make up art and craft. The building blocks of an artifact, a tradition, a civilisation… It’s why a musical note possesses a certain character; why sequences of notes affect you a certain way; why certain narratives bring you to tears… It’s the foundation upon which beauty and great art is built. Spoiler, Tagore, Fela, Bruce Lee, and Frank Lloyd Wright understood this. In their cells. That’s why they’re genius. Get it right in the beginning. Ensure the enterprise is built on fundamental truth, on tradition fully understood… That’s why things that are genius work: as extraordinary as they are, they’re simply evidence of “first principles” at work, excellently… Read the rest of this entry