A good book is a pleasure. It’s an escape, an entertainment and a release, but when it makes you think too, it’s an education. And so it is with Orhan Pamuk’s “My Name is Red”.
The book describes a time when art was at a crossroads. The flat medieval style of painting was being replaced by the radical European notion of perspective. This change, especially in the East was painful, radical and even heretical. In the novel it leads to murder.
The Turkish miniaturists in this story paint exquisitely in the Chinese style, using pen strokes, vivid colour and gold leaf. They don’t paint anything new, instead they copy over and over again the work of the masters who went before them. Their technique is part of a tradition that is centuries old and to divert from this style is to defy God.
How things have changed. We no longer rely on merchants, soldiers and travellers to bring us innovations from around the world. Instead ideas zip through space in seconds, uniting us in one global community in real-time.
So why do we still struggle with the “right way” to do things?
In marketing and social media we debate the pros and cons and the whys and wherefores like Chinese calligraphers. Endless blogs, articles and forums ping back and forth, although no one has tried to murder Chris Brogan or Seth Godin that I know of.
In those ancient days adopting a personal style was seen as criminally self-centred, now everyone can have an opinion and everything is up for grabs.
But forging a new style is still a surprisingly lengthy process.
Finding new ways to talk to customers and methods of trading that treat people as individuals are still being fought over.
Makes you think doesn’t it?