I read a book about fungi recently.
Here's a beautiful quote from it:
"Composers make; decomposers unmake. And unless decomposers unmake, there isn't anything that the composers can make with."
Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life
Often when we think about art, we think about composition. I've realized, this is only half of the picture. What if we also thought of decomposition as art too?
I love how simple the definitions are from the book: make (compose) and unmake (decompose).
Unmaking is just as natural and necessary as making. One needs the other.
There are so many ways to consider this.
Let’s look at the idea of a simple to-do list. Given the need for balance, shouldn’t we also have a to-undo list?
When was the last time you deliberately thought about stopping, breaking down, or unmaking something that you spent an equal amount of deliberate time starting, building, or making?
Lately I've started to consider these two concepts - composing and decomposing - as modes of thinking.
I've realized that I rarely (if ever) find myself in a decomposing mode of thinking.
What would it feel like to decompose a thought?
The only analogy I've been able to come up with so far is from Eastern philosophy, which is the idea of a full and empty cup. If a cup is full nothing more can be added to it, it must be emptied in order for it to become useful again.
Decomposing thoughts might feel like emptying your cup.
Another question worth asking is why do I not find myself in a decomposing mode of thinking more often?
Yet another quote comes to mind:
"One of the strongest forces in the world is the urge to keep doing things as you’ve always done them, because people don’t like to be told they’ve been doing things wrong."
Morgan Housel, A Few Short Stories
I chose this quote because it illustrates the power of avoiding dissonance, in other words, we don't like to tell ourselves we're wrong. That being said, I also don't think that you need to decompose something just because you think it's wrong.
Perhaps we need to look at decomposing as the completely natural process that it is.
Composers make; decomposers unmake.
To find harmony, we need to be both.