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Complexity

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Complexity can be felt as a stone in the shoe of good writing, yet complexity might be part of the writer's long and sometimes stony journey to simplicity.

The virtues of a complex book of poems or fiction might be in the apparent simplicity of its language, and in the subliminal patterning and codes that arc across such work. Art conceals art. The virtue of an accessible and exciting book of creative non-fiction about Fermat's last theorem might reside in its style.

In this latter case, art releases and refreshes knowledge: the art of style translates complex ideas with energy, simplicity and clarity. Yet these are hard-won qualities in writing. In fact they are highly complex processes.

I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity of the other side of complexity."

 Oliver Wendell Holmes, physician and poet 

So how does writing evolve, where is its moving edge, and is all writing - at its best - a type of creative writing? As with a poem or a paradigm, knowledge formation has a moving edge, a place where 'not knowing' is almost as important as knowing.

If we accept that writing makes you think, and that the formation of knowledge depends partly on the complex and often playful process of writing, then what role does the process of writing play on that moving edge of knowledge?

I imagine that the winners of The Warwick Prize for Writing will be situated on that very edge of 'not knowing' and knowing: a place of creativity, energy and adventure.

Professor David Morley, Director, Warwick Prize for Writing

Visit the website of the University of Warwick's groundbreaking "Complexity Complex".

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