Illuminating stuff

I was recently pulled into a discussion about content rich ideas & it kind of fizzled out into that term ‘pathogenic creativity’. Now – even before it’s become a term & because I’d written it down – I kind of felt it was something that I could just throw out there. Maybe in a meeting.

Now – interesting though this term is – I’m pretty sure – by the look on my audiences face that it didn’t even register. Anyway – just to be sure – I thought I’d throw out my own self made jargon again – but still no impact – which really has to be quite worrying (if not at all surprising.)

It’s not generally considered to be okay to use other people’s jargon. Let alone your own. Which no-one has even heard before.

But this really got me thinking about what makes a concept, a thought, a packaged idea lift off & cross the chasm. How do you get to stage where you can walk into a room drop ‘pathogenic creativity’ & everyone gets it. Like Rebecca Black. Like Zangief kid or that homeless Voice Over guy?

I’ve just read ‘hey whipple – squeeze this’ & am partway through a re-read of ‘perfect pitch’. In both books there’s a strong theme on how the passionate will outshine the energetic. Meaning you can work hard but still lack ability to convince or persuade with any belief in what you’re all about. Basically meaning that you lack authenticity.

Now – if authenticity were genuinely a key criteria for persuasion in ‘the multiverse’ then millions of people would not have googled ‘yvi eulb’ last week. Try it. Millions also wouldn’t have watched these silly videos either:

It’s just not authentic. But it does contain something that ALL great stories have. It has myth. The same myth that helped Dan Brown shift a few books. The same myth that helped make George Lucas a few quid. And the same myth that seems to help propel transmedial storytelling & help even ridiculous assertions like the above fly.

‘Pathogenic ideas’ is too complex a term to ever really take off & its likely to stay in my head. But there’s something about the use of archetypes & myth that act as shorthand for a quick cross cultural ‘read’ on an idea. Myth seems to be a catalyst for the curious. And when we want to share something it’s a very healthy propeller…

Just as someone far brighter than me said the other day – ‘what will finally kill the print business is the ability not to hit a button & share it with millions’. I’d take this a step further & assert that without a catalytic myth at the heart of your story – there’s not even a reason to click that button. Or to go pathogenic with an idea.


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