memories




Words, Jesse Jackson IV | jesse@ndlo.co

I feel as though I have reached a creative impasse. My interests have been on a path of steady, gradual divergence from what has put food on my table for the past few years, and I find myself at a point where even feigning interest in the work at hand grows increasingly difficult. This undoubtedly has something to do with the environment in which the work is happening - devoid of any sense of companionship or camaraderie, mentally divorced from the primary drive of the organization, and unable to see the fruits of my labor.,

I find myself at an impasse because I recognize this malaise is not the fault of my employer, at least not directly. I suspect I would eventually feel like this working in any environment where the stakes do not involve personal equity or emotional investment in the eventual success of the venture. The creative energy I once felt with involvement in shipping products has subsided, and now only emerges in the rush to create something of my own. Writing can trigger that spark - making space for these musings triggered that spark, determining how best to distribute the newsletter triggered that spark.. designing bespoke clothing, or recreating the interior spaces in my home triggers that spark.. However, each time I feel the high of creative inspiration, the come down is ever more bitter.

Intuition and education inform me of people who are able to leverage their experiences into earning a living doing the thing that brings that sense of inspiration to bear more often than not. I have great admiration for those who have had the courage to take the leap towards their dreams, and I am constantly looking for that opportunity myself. The realities of the responsibilities I have been fortunate enough to accrue - a home, a means of transportation - serve as constraints to that pursuit that I must create around. Admittedly, I have let those constraints become more binding than they need to be in the past, using them as a weak excuse for why I have not done what I desire to do. Finding and maintaining the discipline to overcome my circumstance is my latest challenge.

Building the courage to believe that my contributions to the spaces I am interested in are worthwhile remains another challenge, one that I understand must ultimately be resolved by all creatives in any endeavor. Even now, the publication of this semi periodical newsletter is met with internal doubt - knowing no one reads it, and yet finding the fortitude to continue on, with the understanding that no audience is built without first making earnest offerings to the abyss. Much of my current oeuvre is built on this sort of internal examination, perhaps because it feels safer than proclamations on subjects I have no right to make a claim to mastery. No great deed was accomplished solely by chasing safety, and so I will instead ask readers of this dispatch to allow me to dare greatly.

There is no greater purpose in life than the pursuit of beauty. The will to fight the never ending battle against the universal tendency towards disorder and decay is the very impulse compelling us to draw air into our lungs. In every human endeavor since time immemorial, we have sought to impress upon our surroundings our sense of the way things should be. The primary draw was survival - ordering things in such a way to promote conditions that would provide necessary shelter from the elements, safety from predators, and an environment that engendered a sense of community.

One would imagine that the pursuit of beauty began very shortly thereafter. Given the choice, there is a natural gravitation towards creating things in an aesthetically pleasing manner over a haphazard one. This natural attraction to beauty is curious, in large part to what such an attraction signifies. There is a clear throughline from beauty to order - look no further than the ideals of symmetry in the human form and harmony in the audible.

In fact, beauty and balance are closely tied. Often, when aesthetic harmony is cast into question through the abstraction of obvious linkages between objects, closer study can reveal a hidden logic that suddenly brings clarity and an ability to further appreciate beauty in what initially presented as chaos. Chaos built on substructures of logic - experimental jazz casts this principle in full relief. The ability to peel back the layers, to detect harmony in the discordant, to search.. Perhaps it is that desire that truly defines an aesthete. This pursuit of beauty, the ability to define order from chaos - how does one practice such a skill? How does one create and refine an appreciation of the arcane art of aesthetics? Osmosis may be the most effective method.


As with language, submersion in an environment conducive to a visual and cultural education is unmatched in imparting upon its inhabitants a sense of taste not easily understood otherwise. It is for this reason regions carry reputations for uncannily stylish people. Napoli, Paris, New York - the stylish set all carry with them different idiosyncrasies and subcultures, but are united across borders and oceans by a shared swagger. Identifying subcultures within the already exclusive stylish set is an endeavor in identifying and understanding nuance - the roll of a lapel, the length of the back blade of a tie - and determining how much you can get away with integrating into your wardrobe without it appearing affected.

Of course, almost everything in the way we choose to present ourselves to the public is an affectation - the goal being to live in the affectation long enough that it becomes you. Today, I pretend to be a bon vivant, a raconteur-hospitalian. In the years to come, it is possible I will become one. The line between pretending and becoming is blurred with action. What counts as action is subjective. In the instances where immersion is impossible, the only possible substitute is literature. The sphere of influence present in the minds of the authors whose literature you consume must be both sufficiently broad and specific. Broad enough to capture a diverse collection of thoughts, while specific enough to be informative to the enthusiast.