I’m reading a beautiful book. At The Loch of the Green Corrie is by Scottish novelist, poet and mountaineer, Andrew Greig.
Part memoir, part meditation on fishing and wilderness, part tribute to another Scottish poet, Norman MacCaig, it speaks to me particularly because it’s set in Assynt, a wild corner of the northwest Highlands where I’ve spent time making music during each of the last two summers, and where the Lewisian Gneiss that thrusts skywards through grass and heather is one of the oldest geological formations on earth. (Scotland drifted around a lot, for a very long time, before finally settling where it is now.)
At one point Andrew Greig describes a childhood game he and his brother used to play. They called it ‘Copsbrook’ after a third, imaginary player. He says this: ‘I have never known a game as demanding, as absorbing, as pure and difficult as playing Copsbrook – unless it is trying to write a poem, a true poem, that has no visible constraints but bends around its inner necessity.’
I really love that: ‘… bends around its inner necessity.’ There’s the sense of shaping a rim to a wheel, endowing the core of a thing with the means of its own movement into the world. And I love it because true as it is of writing a poem, it’s also true of the whole business of communicating.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the value of constraints in the creative process. Here Andrew Greig describes the constraint-less constraint. This is where the essential truth of what you want to get at gives shape to what you have to say.
All of which implies an honesty, a seeking-after-truth, that might seem all too rare in the business world. And yet … I truly believe people are longing for it. They’re fed up with corporate platitudes and spin, with failure of nerve and the bland drivel that results, with disingenuity and vacuity.
I ran a workshop today for a very large technology business. The participants were senior people, educated, intelligent, articulate, experts in their own field. The feeling of longing to let what they had to say be bent around its inner necessity was almost palpable. I hope I encouraged them to reach for it.
It’s very simple really.
People like truth.
Jamie, am looking very forward to reading Greig's book now, and re-reading McCaig, after reading this post. I am feeling the push and urging of that inner necessity in all of the writing, both public and private, in which I am engaged. Imparting truth may be as difficult as realising it….