controlled folly


Finals are approaching and the air of stress is beginning to condense into a rain shower. 

A fellow student doctor was just sitting on my couch not five minutes ago, discussing with me her fears regarding the upcoming weeks. 

“I feel like I am in control and then I am not in control and then I force more control and then I lose more control,” she said. “It gets really bad and this has happened before.”

She is a good friend of mine now and I know her fairly well despite only having met her in August. She is a woman of sincere faith and a good Christian–full of love and acceptance of others. 

“When you think about it,” I replied, “There really is no control, ever. Everything is just happening and there is a divine movement behind it. The notion of control is a human folly. The best we can do is move with the movement, like riding a wave. Maybe we can ride it and go where we want. And maybe, at times, we will falter. But regardless the wave will sweep us along and take us where we are going to go, whether we want to or not.”

I feel the stress too but I know it is not me or mine. It is just part of the movement and I let it be. I know it will go the same way it came. 

She left my apartment feeling a bit better, I think. 


A game master or teacher who was primarily concerned with being close enough to the “innermost meaning” would be a very bad teacher. To be candid, I myself, for example, have never in my life said a word to my pupils about the “meaning” of music; if there is one it does not need my explanations. On the other hand I have always made a great point of having my pupils count their eighths and sixteenths nicely. Whatever you become, teacher, scholar, or musician, have respect for the “meaning” but do not imagine that it can be taught.
Controlled Folly and design.

Today I’d like to look at the creation and design of an artistic venture and how we can handle the massive undertakings that we start with a project.

For example for some time I have been working on a film that would literally change peoples mind or introduce an idea into the mind that wasn’t at the forefront before the film.

You might say, “All films do that! If there is something in the film it will make you think about it!”, Fair enough but my idea is to go a step further and implant the idea in the mind itself, specifically in a part of the mind that is usually reserved for split second survival changes.

The idea of elucidating a supreme point that was overlooked by the onlooker is, for the most part, the idea behind art itself. But we also know the futility that comes with the idea of teaching something to another, it is an impossible task.

So it is the same with the best of teacher-student relationships, they feed off the idea that a direct transference of knowledge is impossible, while at the same time never giving up on the idea that some of the information they are expounding will get through.

Taking up a challenge like this while knowing that it is impossible is the essence of controlled folly. Without controlled folly everything is impossible and futile, with controlled folly everything is impossible and futile, but we act in such a way that everything meaningful and attainable.

So although I know the idea of directly introducing an idea or way of looking at the world into another mind is illogical or downright impossible, my controlled folly is to continue acting and creating like it is possible.

This helps to get rid of a lot of self importance, which can only clog the writing process and create narcissistic mirrors of ourselves on the page. As well as culminating in an approach that combines the two extremes of everything is impossible and everything is possible which means that the writer misses a lot less in their musings and understandings.

It is also an internal acknowledgement of the fact that as a human we will never truly and completely understand anything that we experience.

“… we must know first that our acts are useless and yet we must proceed as if we didn’t know it. That’s a sorcerer’s controlled folly.”

- Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s A Separate Reality

When beginning your project, such an outlook will be invaluable, it will allow you to look to any spectrum of the issue or facet of the world that you are exploring and allow for you  to embrace ideas that otherwise would have seemed impossible.