Simplicity Is the Final Step of Complexity

I stumbled upon this absolute gem of a sentence in Cercle’s interview of Sofiane Pamart after his spectacular performance under the Northern Lights in Lapland. When asked about his passion for aesthetics and how he thinks about the intersection of music and fashion, this was the highlight, for me anyway, of Sofiane’s response.

Sofiane says conversationally, that there’s complexity, complexity, work, work, work, and on top of that is where simplicity is found. The English captions translate it as “simplicity is the last step of complexity” but I like “final” better.

Today I wanted to write a bit about why I like this sentence so much, since I’ve talked about it repeatedly and with so many people since discovering it.

  1. It implies an underlying process that’s being described.
  2. It hints that complexity is that process, and so, complexity can be thought of as a process.
  3. It hints that complexity comes before simplicity, and even that it’s necessary for it. Kind of reminiscent of “the tip of the iceberg”.
  4. If simplicity is the “final step”, then you can use it to know when something is done: when it’s simple. Simplicity is a goal and a marker of completion.
  5. It nudges me to respect truly and beautifully simple things as products of complexity having been processed.
  6. It gives me a perspective from which to analyze why beautiful and evocative things are so: I can just ask myself what the simplicity is that they embody.
  7. The sentence enacts itself: it captures so much that is abstract and provokes thought, yet comprises just a few common words.

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