One of the foremost building architects of the twentieth century, Louis Kahn, offers a useful explanation of the relationship between beauty and design: “Design is not making beauty; beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.”
Kahn explains that beauty emerges from selection. That is, art comes not so much from the act of creation itself but rather from selecting among a near infinite supply of choices.
The musician has a near-infinite palette combining different instruments, rhythms, scale modes, tempo, and the hard-to-define but easy-to-sense “groove.” The painter starts with some 24 million distinguishable colors to choose from. The writer has the full breadth of the Oxford English Dictionary (all 20 volumes; some 300,000 main entries) from which to select the perfect word.
Creativity comes from the selection and assembly of just the right components in just the right presentation to create the work. And selection — knowing what to select and in what context — comes from pattern matching, and that’s a topic to which we’ll keep returning.