Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for September 10th, 2017

Thinking with fewer wheels

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Systems in many respects resemble machines. A machine is a little system, created to perform, as well as to connect together, in reality, those different movements which the artist has occasion for. A system is an imaginary machine invented to connect together in the fancy those different movements and effects which are already in reality performed. The machines that are first invented to perform any particular movement are always the most complex, and succeeding artists generally discover that, with fewer wheels, with fewer principles of motion, than had originally been employed, the same effects may be more easily produced. The first systems, in the same manner, are always the most complex, and a particular connecting chain, or principle, is generally thought necessary to unite every two seemingly disjointed appearances: but it often happens, that one great connecting principle is afterwards found to be sufficient to bind together all the discordant phenomena that occur in a whole species of things.

Adam Smith, Essays on Philosophical Subjects

Written by nevalalee

September 10, 2017 at 7:30 am

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