Saturday, January 20, 2007


Comparisons, Part II

Back in December, I posted about the comparisons critics make when attempting to describe the work of a creative artist who's just busted onto the scene, so to speak. Critics (and the rest of us), tend to make comparisons between the new work and the work of established creatives. At the time, I wondered why it was so common to do this. Well, I've found an answer. I'm working my way through the book "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. One thing that helps to make new ideas sticky is to frame them in terms of what people already know. In other words, it's easier to wrap your mind around a new idea if you can compare it to an older, better known concept, even if that comparison isn't a perfect one.

So, even though it smacks of lazy writing when critics compare creatives this way, this is a very successful shorthand for getting people to immediately understand what you're talking about. It's probably also the reason behind our inability to beat cliches to death with a stick. Let the comparisons continue.

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