Creation and Destruction

There is a single idea that I have observed wearing many different incarnations.

“It’s easier to destroy than to create.”

Oh, really? Is it easier to create a wildfire, or to put it out? Is it easier to start a rumor, or to quash it?

“We want constructive criticism, not destructive.” “We need to move forward; stop holding things back.”

That one is so misguided I don’t know where to start. If you’ve reached a dead end, the only way to go forward is to backtrack. If you’ve made a mistake, the only way to fix things is to unmake it. What use is it to continue building on a flawed foundation? How can you advise people to change the way they do things without ceasing to do what they were doing?

A sculptor takes a block of stone, and carves it away. He ends with a statue, a collection of chips, and a lot of dust. Is this a creative action, or a destructive one?

If it’s creative, what happened to the uncarved block?

If it’s destructive, from where did the statue and debris come?

The sculptor’s actions are not creative. They are not destructive. They are TRANSFORMATIONAL. And all transformation is simultaneously creative and destructive. That’s the nature of change.

Why then do people perceive transformation to be creative and destructive? It depends on what they’re interested in.

If you are concerned for the existence of statuary more than uncarved blocks, you give your attention to the creation of the statue and ignore the destruction of the block. If you value blocks more, you disregard the statue and see only the loss of the block. It’s all a matter of perspective, so to speak. A matter of perception. The creation, or the destruction, arises from the ideas you project onto the blank screen of reality. The screen itself only shows you what you put upon it.

Things that we value that are easy to create but hard to destroy aren’t things that we need concern ourselves which much. They stick around, and if they are lost, we can just build them back up again. There’s little point in being mindful about them.

Easy to create, easy to destroy? A similar argument holds.

The things we expend the most effort on, and must keep in our minds, are the things that we value that are hard to create. This is true regardless of the ease of destruction, but especially so when destruction is easily accomplished.

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5 Responses to “Creation and Destruction”

  1. You redefined the sculptors actions as transformational. Then what word should we use to differentiate between the sculptor succeeding in making his preferred statue shape, as opposed to when the moving crew accidentally topples and unmakes it?

    ‘Creation’ means hitting a location in the search space that one prefers (difficult – usually). Destruction means making that state anything else that one does not prefer, which is easy, since any physical action taken has more of a chance of hitting a non-preferential search state.

    Your counter example of rumors and fires should force people to acknowledge that creation and destruction is not about what their intuition might tell them: ‘building something’ or ‘taking something away’, but rather hitting specific targets in the search space. Someone who wants to destroy a rumor still is trying to hit a small search target, out of many unpreferential states since by nature of people, once a rumor starts they are sure to make it continue.

  2. “differentiate between the sculptor succeeding in making his preferred statue shape, as opposed to when the moving crew accidentally topples and unmakes it?”

    That’s the creation and destruction of the statue, respectively.

    “‘Creation’ means hitting a location in the search space that one prefers”

    No, it doesn’t.

  3. “No, it doesn’t.”

    I’m not convinced.

    What is inaccurate about that characterization? Even if your preferred state is abstract and therefore includes many possible states, there still are less of those than the total. Even if you want to “create destruction” and your preferred state is to see the statue destroyed, it is still harder to hammer the statue to pieces than to just do nothing and not reach your preferred statue-destroyed state.

    My point:

    It is true that what we value has consequences on what we notice is difficult or not. But it is also true that reaching preferred states in the universe is more difficult than not reaching those states, by nature of probability.

  4. I thought the idea was about the 2nd law of thermodynamics making disorder more probable, and the related idea of 99% of everything being crap with only a small improbable fraction of possible arrangements being desirable.

  5. “What is inaccurate about that characterization?”

    If you aim at a target, and fail to hit it, what is your relationship with the resulting state?

    Did you ‘create’ it, or not?

    “I thought the idea was about the 2nd law of thermodynamics making disorder more probable, and the related idea of 99% of everything being crap with only a small improbable fraction of possible arrangements being desirable.”

    Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘desirable’, doesn’t it. If something is worth having, but easy to make, we don’t spend a lot of time or energy desiring it. The ‘desirable’ stuff ends up being the worthy things that are expensive or difficult to acquire.

    We know the worth of water once the well is dry.

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