A story that compels you to continue turning the pages, the idea you read on a deep twitter thread that your mind keeps turning back to during showers, the art piece that is forever burned in your mind. The common thread between all of these things is how they make you want to see the world from the perspective of the creator. There’s a new, undiscovered feeling that the idea evokes when you play around it with your mind. Running your mental fingers along the ridges and the curves, you’re intrigued by the rough shape of the thing, and the resonance you feel from the surface compels you to explore all the layers. This is the texture of the creation, the property that combines uniqueness with an impactful first impression, where you’re left wanting to understand more of the world that this creation inhabits.
Texture is the tangible, 3d personality that pops out of the medium for a piece of media or out of the abstract for a thought that allows ideas to penetrate your everyday perception. Texture is the product of the idea developing on its own, when the human creator has become a mere passenger along for the ride. It's what gets created when the creative flame roars beyond control and burns away the trivial, leaving behind the most essential, a unique, unrepeatable mark that acts as an undeniable identity card for the original idea.
Notably, this is a very different mindset from our traditional model of ownership over ideas. It’s the constant tension between wanting to be someone who creates something cool and wanting to create something cool for its own sake. Everything we do is colored by our status-oriented society, and it’s a constant struggle to fight against that default tendency and get your ego out of the way. When we’re driven by the desire for ownership rather than the desire for creation, it taints the creation with an underlying desire for power rather than letting the creation speak for itself.
The mark that texture leaves is like a name. Something that automatically designates what and hints at the why. This texture is the sensation our minds encounter when they play with ideas made this way. Something about it is a sharp break from the overwhelming amount of content that is produced and then shoved down our information pipelines to our brains. The steady stream of breaking news, the manicured status updates of social media, and the back and forth of opposing intellectual opinion pieces. They provide us value but in a way that leaves us drained of energy, every day the same package with a slightly different set of contents.
Feeling texture is our mind's instinct telling us that something is interesting—that it feels new or different from the standard format we're inundated in all day. We're taught to be standard from our standardized education and to communicate in a standard way about standard topics for efficiency's sake. The academic world is separated into clean disciplines: computer science in one place and humanities in another and biology in the another one. Preciseness and streamlined are the names of the game. And it's how we end up with vastly similar and smooth textures in the world. Our information palate has gotten used to the silky smoothness of delivery which is why it's so taken aback by heavily textured works.
This pressure to conform towards smoothness cascades from our ideas down to our very identities. Society wants to produce standardized citizens for operational efficiency and civic order, which is why we’re encouraged to stamp out weird behaviors early on and behave like upstanding examples of the right way of doing things, the traditionally accepted path for new adults in the world. It’s so striking when you encounter someone who is unabashedly authentic to themselves, to the point that they not just unique but “weird,” precisely because it’s so rare in a world where you’re pressured to do the opposite. People who are able to inhabit this way of living constantly are free, and the ones that give us the most pause are differently free, free but in a way very different from ours.
Texture indicates unbridled expression. An expression of a core feeling from deep within an idea or someone's id. All of us are really just searching for texture, jumping from one especially resonant texture to the next when we're following what our heart wants to do. Life is a long journey of evolving our texture, finding the resonant textures in the people and ideas around us, and discovering how we can channel our identity into the broader world through creations.
I want to be constantly free, embracing the unique texture I’ve cultivated authentically. To channel the ideas that feel too crazy to be realistic, too weird to be normal, too imaginary to be real—the ideas that most yearn to break free, to roar to life in a creative flame and yank the driver's seat away from you. I want to let go of my desire for ownership, to focus on being the tool to expressing the creation’s essence and simply enjoy the ride when the idea takes over. And ultimately, I want to find and connect intimately with the different textures of the world, ideas that challenge my notion of what’s “right” and people that expand my concept of what’s possible.
This is the 14th installment in my experiment of publishing raw, lightly edited mini-essays every day towards achieving 100 public pieces. Check out the rationale and the full list here.