Photo: Fentress Architecture of Pallazzo Verdi. Chandelier Chardin by moi.
So Joseph Campbell walks in to a bar....
OK, so Joey walked in to my dream last night to tell me to string together my book. I said " isn't that what editors do? and he said " no, they just cut out the good stuff " they just trim, you have to do the stringing. Then I ran across this rant today, by chance, after my I-Tunes played the Campbell lecture "The Way of Art" by chance. I love chances.
I have been thinking about this book for several years now, and it has yet to manifest itself. Funny in a way – here I am a person that professes that I can help people be more creative, and create anything they want to, yet I wallow in my own blocks and stops and rejections.
Rejection is a strange animal. Most of the time, we think of it as an external force – that someone rejects you, or an institution rejects you. But really, when we really get truthful about it, we often are our own worse enemy. We reject ourselves. We reject our own ideas, thoughts and visions. Accepting ourselves is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks.
So, stripping the the elements of ego and business away from the project, why do I need to write this book? What purpose this salve? Why do people need to read it or use it? Hasn’t someone already nailed this?
I believe that it is a part of my mission as a creator to help others create. The more people inspired to create, the more creative the world will be. The more creative the world is, the more beauty will emmerge. And of course, Dostevesky was right – “ beauty will save the world”. I get to pose the Universal question in a neat package.*1
The creative act is easy. The creative process is learnable. Great creative works are a lot of hard work and not easy. If great creative works were easy wouldn’t we have created a lasting peace on Earth? Wouldn’t we have created enough food for everyone? Wouldn’t we have already created a system of economic sustainability for the many instead of the few? Of course we would have. So that means that
Everyone needs to become more creative and use more genius to save the world!
On Being Creative
I have been told since I could understand the words that I am “extremely creative” – This has always puzzled me. Maybe I won some divine creativity lottery or some such thing, but why me? I don’t feel any different. I don’t know why I am “creative” and the next guy “isn’t”. I sometimes think that I became extremely creative because people told me I was and I didn’t want to let them down, so I trained myself to be creative.
Buckminster Fuller was right, we are all born geniuses. The recognized genius’ are just that – RECOGNIZED. Each person’s genius is different, and it is wheather or not it is found.
Someone may be born a music genius, but if they never hear music or pick up an instrument, the genius never manifests.
This is one of the reasons I think crosstraining is so important- both children an adults should be exposed to as wide a range of activities as possible, making it possible to win the genius “lottery”. The slogan for our state lottery is “you can’t win if you don’t play”. That is actually a good motto for the creative process as well – You can’t win if you don’t play.
A big part of creating is the finite side of the process. Do not pass go unless you:
Accept that there is a process that must be completed in order to create. There is actually no happen chance in the process of creating. There may be great happenchance, magic and even eureka in the creative product, but not the processs.
Hone your ability to know both on a conscience and subconscience level where you are in that process.
If you know that the process is a journey, and you know where you are in that journey, you can end up at your destination. Simple enough – right?
If you don’t accept the process, you will most likely be fooled by the many killers of the process. There are deceptions and lies that are actually part of the process.
When arriving at the Magic Castle private club in Hollywood, if you were not accompanied by an official member, you might walk in the room, find an interesting but door-less library, turn around and leave. Now if a member of the club is with you, they might speak with the stuffed owl sitting on the bookshelf, and suddenly, the bookcase would slide open to reveal a sumptious drawing room and bar filled with magicians and their guests.
I have seen repeatidly that people say they want to create something, and they embark on the journey. The first moments of creating something are often the most fun – conception is full of positive energy – but when we come to the first gate keeper, the first wall, the first challenge, the journey is abandoned often with out the knowledge that with just a couple of actions – that wall would have opened revealing magic and new energy to carry us to the next juncture of the creative path.
We are often also really hard on ourselves and others during creative “infancy”.
Demanding greatness from a newborn child would bee considered a cruel and misguided action. Demanding greatness from your creative work in the beginning of the process seldom yields greatness, but most often abandoment of the very work. Demand process, demand passion and energy, demand truth, demand compassion, demand expression – you can create great things from these demands, but never shake the baby.
My profession, and all of my hobbies for that matter, involve creating. In the course of an ordinary day, I may need to write, draw, paint, sculpt, communicate, draft, script, budget, arrange and present. And it is pretty common that I need to do several of these at the same time. Just as any mother could tell me, it is not so much heroic as necessary.
I am a working designer, a working artist – and in order to keep the “working” part of the title in the equation I must work. A lot. That means there is little time for the stars to align and the majestic creative muse to decend with gifts of glorious expressions of great art. No, it is more like hurling yourself in to the creative flux at a moment’s notice. It is neccesary to turn on creat creativity at almost anytime and produce work.
I am what ther refer to as “Creative Warhorse”. I have thousands of projects under my belt, some good, some bad, a few atcrocious and fewer genius, but all completed works. Complete works are the only ones that count.
Completed works count. Internal visions are entertaining, provoking, and depressing at times – but only to us. These internal operas die with us. Not given to another. Not expressed.
“A visions’ just a vision if its only in your head” – Sunday in the Park with George – Stephen Sondiem
Ok - so bigshot, what’s the secret? Where is the facuet you turn off and on?
So after 100,000 hours or more, why can’t I define this precisly for even myself?
“Truth can not be stated once and for all, because truth transcends time” – Jayne Harnett
Does that mean that at the most basic levels, we look for the truths that seem to transcend our time. What feels truth-filled usually is. In other words – 1/2 of this may be predictable, and the other simply unique for every human being.
More clearly: We can define the basic game, but the rules will change constantly, and the game board is moving as well. Other than that, I will clearly define the creative process in a different but perfect way that has not yet been voiced in the last few thousand years. Wow.
Saying yes to the call is perhaps the most daunting task in the creative process. By our very human make up, there is an instinctual reaction to things and moment or riska and danger – fight or flight . In most cases it far more rationale to flee from a creative problem than to stay and “fight”.
The brain is a very protective device, an it can come up with increadibly rational reasons not to be creative.
Every aspect of us can be challenged, and can result in “system rejection”. The systems include: emotional revelation in front of pears. Intimacy. Ego/id fear of downgrading, hiearchy disruption, physical danger, uncomfortibility – paint on my clothes!, being revealed as un-educated or un-hip or a fool, oh ya – the list goes on an on. Creative endeavors demand a level of trust and respect in or to function in a group or be judged by others.
So following the concept of the brain almost wired to not create –
How could this corrilate with the observation that many artists, inventors, designers, architects are a little “odd” or outsiders. Is is easier to create if you are not in the A group pear pressure? Do oddballs become creative to compete with suave executive types?
Back to the point. Creating doesn’t take as much magic as moxy. Creating is not for social sissies. You gotta have guts to create. No pain no gain.
I believe the Joseph Campbell description of the “proper work of art” … a proper work of art asks “the universal question”. It is not didactic or pornograhic but a static, well intended and balanced view of the center of it ALL. The viewer can then glean enormous energy and inspiration from the work.