I’m currently investigating plotting, cunning and deceit, one might say my inner Slytherin, and for the purposes of this investigation I look to fiction to teach me life lessons. For example, I watch House of Cards and I can in all honesty recommend it to anyone looking to understand plotting.
Recently, I’ve discovered a concept that is so profound I wonder how I haven’t seen it before. It is resimplification.
Resimplification is, as it name says, simple. It is the idea that all things, no matter how complicated, eventually get simple again.
Examples: a very complex problem that demands different solving strategies and a highly complex approach. As time passes, and the conditions change, the solution isn’t to be found in complexity, but in simplicity. And then, as conditions change again and the problem gets more complex, your solutions adapt and follow lead and get complex themselves. But again, as a new situation arises, the best solution to look for is the most simple one.
This heuristic is applicable not only as a problem-solving tool, even though you may find most use of it there. It is a pervasive system that shows itself in life in general.
Even the introduction of this article is subject to resimplification – I have found that after all my investigations and all my research into the cunning and the plotting and the deceit – the conclusion becomes simple again.
Truth. Honesty. Openness.
This is how you solve all the riddles created by those who constantly lie and deceive and plot, not through doing what they do.
Now there is a key difference between being stubborn and not adapting, and resimplifying. Not adapting is bad, never changing your approach is bad, but resimplifying is good – it is the one adaptation technique that guarantees success because it goes to basics, it goes to axioms, it goes to the simple.
Let me give you more examples of resimplification:
In Wing Tzun we have a drill called Chi Sao: it is somewhat like sparring but not exactly because it is designed to drill in certain hand techniques into muscle memory, so you spend a lot of time “stuck” to your training partner’s hands. As you do your free Chi Sao, situations in which you find yourselves get more and more complex, and hand positions and placements get weirder and weirder and you constantly have to adapt. Sometimes you get into a complex position you don’t know exactly what to do. Answer is simple: resimplify. If you don’t know what, do the basic: punch. In my experience, it always works. I assume it goes for other martial arts as well.
Resimplification is like a reset button for life.
I’ve just watched an episode of House of Cards where there was a whole lot of plotting and planning and negotiating and thinking and playing games of tactics.
What finally happened? The most simple possible solution to a conflict: physical violence. It is this “basicness” that put a end to the ever-rising series of complexity. It is because one of the conflicted parties was uneducated in the basics of the basics – fighting – that he lost. Not that he had a bad plan, or that he didn’t think things through. He didn’t have drilled-in basics, he wasn’t prepared for his opponent to resimplify and he lost. He lost because he didn’t know how to fight. Dumb.
Look wherever you want in life and you’ll see the need to resimplify and “start fresh”. Economics? Check. Politics? Check.
Everywhere around you, in your life, opportunities to resimplify. Relations with other humans – as they get complicated, you cut through all the bullshit and speak frankly and you resimplify. Relationships improved or relationships broken, but (good) change achieved. Check.
As you try to find the best diet, and you experiment and search and try, so you’re a bit Paleo, but then you’re looking to vegetarianism, but then you’re trying to balance your diet and take care of the micronutrients and so on… Eventually, after you consume all this knowledge, you’ll resimplify. Nutrition – check.
Trying to find a good workout? You try crossfit, then you try standard weight lifting, then you go for some very complex stuff like dancing or circus arts, then marathon running. All these little investigations are fine, but if you’re always searching, you might find that the answer is to resimplify. Do the simple stuff again. Exercise – check.
I really think it’s applicable in life, both as a lens to perceive life, and as a way of solving problems in a complex world.
Don’t do only simple stuff, but always do simple stuff AGAIN.