J.J. Abrams TED talk: "Mystery in a Box" (video)

Of all the inspiring presenters I saw at TED last year, the most entertaining was J.J. Abrams, the producer, director and screenwriter behind Alias, Lost, Mission Impossible III, and the upcoming Cloverfield.

Abrams started his talk by showing a wrapped box he's owned for decades. It's a "mystery package" he bought from Lou Tannen's Magic store in New York. It has a big question mark on it. He's never opened the box and never will open it because he says the mystery of what's inside the box is more interesting than anything that might be in the box. "It represents infinite possibility; it represents hope; it represents potential... mystery is the catalyst for imagination... maybe there are times where mystery is more important than knowledge."  

Picture 4-61 J.J. Abrams traces his love of the unseen mystery -- the heart of AliasLost, and the upcoming Cloverfield -- back to its own magical beginnings, which may or may not include an early obsession with magic, the love of a supportive grandfather, or his own unopened Mystery Box.

As a speaker, Abrams' enthusiasm -- for the construction of Kleenex boxes, for the quiet moments between shark attacks in Jaws, for today's filmmaking technologies, and above all for the potent mystery of an unopened box -- is incredibly infectious, and sure to appeal to everyone from budding filmmakers to die-hard Kill Your Televisionistas.

Link to video of talk | Link to a Hi-Res QuickTime | Link to MP3 file. (Thanks, Jason Wishnow!)