How Primary Scenes Was Created

Over the course of many years, and the collection of knowledge and experiences, many things which would normally seem to be isolated, began to make sense together, as a part of one unified whole. The very essence of Primary Scenes, is the realization that many aspects of the human experience can be seen as parts of a single whole, from a certain perspective. Further, that this unified view, rather than diminishing the significance of the parts, actually increases the value and understanding gained from appreciating the parts. This is precisely because Primary Scenes is able to provide a context, that naturally integrates these most important aspects of life.

At a certain point, I began to write a book which had a very non-distinct title, nor was it particularly easy to follow in its early stages. These flaws actually turned out to be features because they lead me to represent the written content visually, and this is when Primary Scenes really came into the world as its own distinct entity.

It can often sound cliché, to remark that constraints can actually be invaluable to the creative process, but I have found that to be proven for developing the visual aesthetic of Primary Scenes. I think that if I had set out deliberately from the start, to create a bunch of symbols and a color palette, to represent all the complexity I was writing about, it may have looked more impressive at first glance, but it probably would have lacked the simplicity and accessibility of what I ended up with.

Ironically, it is the very simplicity of the visual aesthetic of primary scenes, that allows it to represent and to generate tremendous complexity. This is a theme that you see time and time again both with primary scenes itself, and in other domains such as biology, music, theater, architecture etc. The more simple the fundamental building blocks are, the easier it usually is to combine them in different ways, and this is ultimately why the simple visual aesthetic of Primary Scenes, is so widely applicable.


At first the symbols were being created for my own use, as writing aids so that I could quickly associate a piece of text with the right group, without having to read through everything or create summaries for each page etc. So, this was initially more about form following function. There was a quick and light feel to the way that I initially drew the symbols, because I was literally drawing them by hand on index cards, and notebook pages many times per day. In that repetition of drawing the same basic forms over and over again, to represent the same basic ideas, you naturally start to refine how you create the strokes, and over time there is a certain minimalism that emerges for the sake of efficiency. In a sense it is more accurate to say that the visual aesthetic of Primary Scenes, grew and evolved, without much conscious direction, until the point where it was mainly the details that were adjusted deliberately.

Early on, I knew that Primary Scenes could work well with various kinds of art, just based on its visual aesthetic alone. Often times, you will encounter a system or a person, or a business etc, that does many complex things that don't work because the fundamentals weren't right underneath. Then there is the opposite wherein you might see a system that seems too simple and basic to do anything complex (see wolfram’s rule 30 and rule 110 cellular automata for striking examples), and yet from simple building blocks, all kinds of rich structure and complexity is generated. I think the art of Primary Scenes and Primary Scenes as a whole is very much like the second type.

The most important realization with the art of Primary Scenes, is that I had to strike the right balance between too basic and generic, which allows you to apply it to anything, but looks like everything, and on the other hand you want to avoid something so specific and individual, that it can only be applied in a very narrow range of styles and mediums. What happened was that due to the way that each symbol is unique in its own way, but stylistically related to the others, and the fact that each color base is a part of a scene with the same colors but each has its own shade value, allows for this very natural palette effect, that has the generic property of just working broadly in terms of form and medium etc, and then you also have these unique symbols that can be emphasized or de-emphasized, depending on what the focus of the particular art collection or piece is.

Although it is much easier to quickly see and appreciate the visual side of primary scenes, and even its lifestyle products, none of it would matter without the content at its core.

Some people in business say that until you put a date on the calendar, nothing is real. There is a corollary to this in the mental domain, which is that until you start reading and writing about an idea, you haven’t given it the water and sun to grow. Primary Scenes was “grown” over many years, with the air and rain and sun, of reading (and re-reading) so many books, articles, papers, and writing on so many notebooks, index cards, entries in Evernote, recording quick audio notes to self (pretty rare, but still did it a few times).

It was this constant process of taking in challenging and insightful thoughts from some of the brightest minds that have ever existed, and having also the capacity and habits to not only read what others thought, but to write about my own thoughts. So, there was this constant back and forth feedback loop between consuming, digesting, and producing something new. This is the basic cycle that repeated over and over again, across many scales of time from within a single day of reading and writing about a particular book chapter or field or article, to a decade of large-scale learning and content generation, that allowed me to develop a genuinely unique and relevant body of work that stands on the shoulders of giants, but stands on its own nonetheless.

I used to be obsessed with trying to plan and outline the perfect structure before attempting to write significant works, but over the years I came to find a seemingly inefficient process that was much more effective overall. That is the shift in focus from writing a particular document or essay or note, and instead just making it so habitual and frequent and easy, to write and save and categorize for reference, anything that was on my mind at any time. What happened is that without even trying, I began to create not a document or a paper or even a book, but something much more amorphous and yet also more significant, a body of work.

There is a huge difference in approach and process, when you realize that you're growing a body of work rather than focusing on writing something specific like a book or, an essay or a newsletter etc. I don't think Primary Scenes would have been able to emerge if I had tried to deliberately aim at creating it and scheduling it to be done by a certain time in a certain way etc. It was in the blindness and the messiness of not knowing what it was that I was ultimately creating, that I could just read, just write, just think, just notice what connections and concepts pop up, and what themes keep coming back over and over again. Of course, the main downside from this approach is that you can’t direct it top down. You can’t set your clock by it. You can’t tell other people that you're doing such and such and in 5 years time you will have attained a certain result and a certain position in society that will then retroactively validate the work you had to put in to get there along the way.

So often the problem with life is that we insist on deciding the outcome we want, before we know what's even possible for the journey we’re on. For all the projects and businesses and screenplays and essays and books that I thought I wanted to attain over the years, none of them worked, and ironically the one thing that had stuck around, the process that lead to the creation of everything that is now called Primary Scenes, was decidedly, undecidable. I wouldn't have it any other way, if I had to decide.

The lifestyle products are and aspect of Primary Scenes that was not initially a part of what I was doing, but become more obvious over time. They were a natural outgrowth of two converging influences, which were the kinds of activities and environments I wanted to promote in my life. I realized that there were ways that I could complement the visual aesthetic of Primary Scenes, and the themes of its content, with physical products that could carry those themes forward into different kinds of spaces and circumstances.

I knew that right off the bat, it made sense to look at creating yoga mats and other floor items, because the actual design of Primary Scenes is really natural to translate into rectangular objects. It also turned out that the same kind of designs worked well on bottles because they are essentially rectangles wrapped around a cylinder.

As the COVID-19 pandemic grew during the summer of 2020, I decided to see if it made sense to apply the Primary Scenes design aesthetic to PPE such as face masks, and found that here again, the basic designs worked well, even in these highly irregular shapes.

Looking forward, I can see there are opportunities to develop lifestyle products that help to create and shape spaces in the home, and outside the home, that also promote the Primary Scenes visual aesthetic and content themes.