Today’s little lesson comes from the writer, producer, director (etc.) JJ Abrams from ‘Alias, ‘Lost’, ‘Star Trek’, ‘Cloverfield’ and a host of other TV Shows and Movies that you probably love. The quote is from a TED talk that he made and that you can watch here on YouTube: JJ Abrams: the mystery box where he talks about story making and innovation and building something and his realization that “…we could do anything” when filming the pilot for Lost. The talk is great and I highly recommend watching the whole thing, but if you don’t, pay attention to the quote below.
“Mystery is the catalyst for imagination…mystery is more important than knowledge.” – JJ Abrams
I wrote this quote down without really thinking about it, to be honest I just thought it was cool. It has been sitting in my draft folder for a few weeks now and I keep coming back to it to think about it more. The part that I had been focused on was the first “Mystery is the catalyst for imagination,” because I envy imagination and try to refresh mine as much as possible. But what I had been missing was the second part of the quote from JJ Abrams where he says, “…mystery is more important than knowledge.” And I beg you to watch the full video for his explanation of it all, but here is my interpretation of the lesson behind these words.
Lesson: The lesson derived isn’t that you can build a good story with mystery or that you can imagine anything, the lesson I gathered from JJ Abrams that I’d like to pass on is that when you have mystery, you are provoked to search for understanding. The mystery makes you seek out new possibilities or answers for something you don’t understand fully yet.