Werner Herzog, the film director, says, regarding film,

“We are not garbage collectors. We are film-makers. We do only the truly intense and remarkable.”

Of course Herzog is getting at the difference between capturing absolutely everything in the whole of an environment, and, narrowing down to the truly intense and remarkable. This is a very important distinction, and it’s at the heart of pretty much all of my work.

And it’s generalizable beyond just the domain of work too. It applies in basically everything that humans, or any thinking beings, do.

Really, when we’re thinking, we’re engaged in a kind of (some kind of) interplay, between the wide and the narrow, between the whole of an environment, and our act of narrowing down (focus) to things that we can articulate with some intensity.

It is some kind of interplay between these two things where thinking happens and understanding grows. It is of course exceedingly difficult to put our finger on precisely what this interplay is, but it’s there, and we can reflect on our own experience with it.

Whatever it is that you do, whether you’re a philosopher or a ditch digger, you’re thinking. And it’s essentially the same kind of thought. You’re engaged in a kind of interplay between the wide and the narrow. It’s in the interplay that understanding happens. This research is an investigation into the nature of thinking.

This is the subject of research interviews I’m beginning. I’m interviewing interested people to get them to talk about this in their own experience:

  • What do you think about?
  • How do you think?
  • What techniques, and media, do you use to develop your thoughts, clarify them, and communicate them to others?”
  • What distinction do you make between thinking widely and thinking narrowly, and
  • What interplay do you find between the wide and the narrow, between environment and focus?
  • How would you describe what’s happening there in that interplay, for you, both at the endpoint poles (the wide and the narrow poles), and in the connective activity you generate between them?

These are simple and abstract questions, and I’m optimistic that the answers will be interesting and that, in discussion, some interesting ideas will surface.

Contact me if you’re interested in being interviewed:


Notes about the research:

These interviews might be better called conversations. On camera, those interviewed  (architects and engineers for example, and many other professions) will talk about what they want to talk about — they’ll talk about their own work and their own thinking, what they think about, how they think, how they think about things widely, broadly, generally, and, how they think more narrowly.

We’ll also talk about the active interplay between wide and narrow thinking, and how understanding grows in this interplay.

We’ll talk about forms of media and techniques, used at both ends of the spectrum (wide and narrow) and in the interplay.

The interviews are a chance for people to show their own work and talk about it in ways that are meaningful to them.

This research and these interviews have nothing to do with any company’s products or brands or services. The conversation is more basic, more fundamental. Simpler, and more interesting. These interviews are about the people being interviewed. And about thinking. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Making a film

We’ll develop the research and excerpts from the recorded interviews, and our thoughts about what’s learned in the conversations, as a film.

This is our first film-making project.


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