I couldn’t agree more with the premise of the beautiful piece by Maria Popova on The Marginalian. Cave’s description is similar to the art school idea of “process vs product”. But with his inclusion of the spirit the discussion is elevated and expanded. Creativity can help us to elevate and expand ourselves and there is never a time when that is not relevant. (Bob)

BY MARIA POPOVA

Two years before she fused her childhood impression of a mechanical loom with her devotedly honed gift for mathematics to compose the world’s first computer program in a 65-page footnote, Ada Lovelace postulated in a letter that creativity is the art of discovering and combining — the work of an alert imagination that “seizes points in common, between subjects having no very apparent connexion, & hence seldom or never brought into juxtaposition.” 

Her father — the poet Lord Byron, rockstar of the Romantics — embodied this in his own work, fusing influences* as diffuse in time, space, and sensibility as Confucius and Virgil, Erasmus Darwin and Mary Shelley, Greek tragedy and Galilean astronomy, to compose some of the world’s most original* and enduring poetry. 

A century and a poetic revolution after him, Rilke captured this combinatorial nature of creativity when he contemplated what it takes to write anything of beauty and substance. 

All poets — “poets” in Baldwin’s broad sense of “the only people who know the truth about us,” encompassing all artists, all makers of beauty and knowledge, all shamans of our self-knowledge — understand this intimately, and therefore understand the most elemental truth about creativity: that *these two words are chimeras of the ego. 

I see my soul reflected in Nature. One of artist Margaret C. Cook illustrations for a rare 1913 English edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. (Available as a print.)

There is no blank slate upon which works of true originality are composed, no void out of which total novelty is created. Nothing is original because everything is an influence; everything is original because no influence makes its way into our art untransmuted by our imagination. We bring to everything we make everything we have lived and loved and tessellated into the mosaic of our being. To be an artist in the largest sense is to be fully awake to the totality of life as we encounter it, porous to it and absorbent of it, moved by it and moved to translate those inner quickenings into what we make. 

That is what Nick Cave, part Byron and part Baldwin for our own time, explores in an issue of his Red Hand Files — the online journal in which he takes questions from fans and answers them in miniature essays of uncommon insight, soulfulness, and sensitivity, opening up improbable backdoors into those cavernous chambers where our most private yet common bewilderments about art and life dwell, and filling those chambers with the light of sympathetic understanding. 

Nick Cave by JooHee Yoon

When a fan from my own neighborough asks Cave how he muffles all of his influences in order to hear his own inner voice and trust that he is making something wholly his own, he answers with his characteristic poetics of numinous pragmatism:

Nothing you create is ultimately your own, yet all of it is you. Your imagination, it seems to me, is mostly an accidental dance between collected memory and influence, and is not intrinsic to you, rather it is a construction that awaits spiritual ignition. 

Your spirit is the part of you that is essential. It is separate from the imagination, and belongs only to you. This formless pneuma is the invisible and vital force over which we toss the blanket of our imagination — that habitual mix of received information, of memory, of experience — to give it form and language. In some this vital spirit burns fiercely and in others it is a dim flicker, but it lives in all of us, and can be made stronger through daily devotion to the work at hand.

Art by Maurice Sendak for a special 1973 edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

In consonance with Black Mountain College poet and ceramicist M.C. Richards’s lovely notion of creativity as the poetry of our personhood and with anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson’s concept of “composing a life” — which captures with such poetic precision the fundamental fact that our very lives are the ultimate creative work — Cave adds:

Worry less about what you make — that will mostly look after itself, and is to some extent beyond your control, and perhaps even none of your business — and devote yourself to nourishing this animating spirit. Bring all your enthusiasm to bear on the development of that good and essential force. This is done by a commitment to the creative act itself. Each time you tend to that ingenious spark it grows stronger, and sets afire the ordinary gifts of the imagination. The more dedication you show to the process, the better the work, and the greater your gift to the world. Apply yourself fully to the task, let go of the outcome, and your true voice will appear. You’ll see. It can be no other way.

There are echoes here of Whitman, who declared in his “Laws of Creation” for “strong artists and leaders… and coming musicians” that to create means only to “satisfy the Soul”; there are echoes, too, of Mary Oliver and her invocation of “the third self” — that crucible of our creative energy, which demands of us to give it both power and time. 

Complement with Cave on music, feeling, and transcendence in the age of algorithmsand grief as a portal to aliveness, then revisit poet Naomi Shihab Nye on the two driving forces of creativity, John Coltrane on outsiderdom as a wellspring of originality, John McPhee on the relationship between originality and self-doubt, and Paul Klee on how an artist is like at tree.

From: The Marginalian

Kafka’s Drawings

October 30, 2021

Kafka's Dancing Man Drawing
Kafka’s Dancing Man

It seems that Kafka made an argument for disallowing illustrations and drawings to be associated with his writing. By emphasizing the power of visual imagery he suggested the strong effect such visuals would have on the imagery in his writing. It makes sense- a writer may want the imagery of their words to be evoked independently of suggestion. To read this essay from the Philip Oltermann at The Guardian and see a few more drawings, click the link below.

www.theguardian.com/books/2021/oct/29/franz-kafka-drawings-reveal-sunny-side-to-bleak-bohemian-novelist

I love this work. Click through for more and larger images.

This article from Psyche rings true to me. I have had many conversations with friends and colleagues who have encouraged me to take whatever creative product I have just shared and monetize it by finding a commercial outlet. While I find this flattering, I also am displeased by their extrapolation of the product of a creative moment to the realm of the commercial. I know from my experience that thoughts of commercial success and the behaviors that would be expected are dampeners to my imagination and creative process. Although I would enjoy the attention that commercial success implies, I would not trade it for the joy of the imagination, the interaction with the media and tools, the problem solving, and sense of completion- however fleeting. The striving takes me out of the moment, or replaces the in-the-moment joy with attention to the future rather than the now and away from the intensely personal experience into one that invites the judgement of others. I have been fortunate to not have to depend on my amateur interests to make a living- my career took another path related but not the same. And so now retired from that career I can spend more time and attention what I love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I rekindled my relationship with the piano and tapped into my inner amateur, I discovered a quiet room of my own
— Read on psyche.co/ideas/feel-free-to-stop-striving-learn-to-relish-being-an-amateur

John Keats on his deathbed. The Print Collector via Getty Images

“…Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason — Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge.”

With this statement in a letter to his brothers in 1817, John Keats, the singular English poet, describes his concept of Negative Capability. It seems clear that this concept describes a condition in which the potential for creativity is optimized.

See also this post from Richard Gunderman in The Conversation.

John Keats died 200 years ago tomorrow, February 23, 1821.

Persistent habits facilitate creativity by leaving the mind open and uncluttered. The undeniably creative Lynch explains his methods.

The Recipes of Famous Artists: Dinners & Cocktails From Tolstoy, Miles Davis, Marilyn Monroe, David Lynch & Many More | Open Culture
— Read on www.openculture.com/2020/08/the-recipes-of-famous-artists.html

Art as therapy is wonderful and effective. I wonder if any of these museums will consider hiring a credentialed art therapist to direct these programs. Credentialed art therapists have been professionally trained in the therapeutic use of art and can facilitate and oversee effective programming.

www.nytimes.com/2020/06/15/arts/design/art-therapy-museums-virus.html

Music and art as an “accumulation of wisdom, the context art gives us that puts life into perspective, (Sonny Rollins) and transcends politics. From an article in the New York Times, May 18, 2020, as told to Ian Carlino.

Patterns That Connect

January 27, 2020

youtu.be/ChWOq3rRxOE

This is a fascinating video showing the movement of a school of striped eel catfish moving collectively almost as a single entity, reminiscent of flocks of sparrows behaving similarly but in the air, not under water. It also brings to mind Gregory Bateson’s great 1972 book, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity;, in which he discusses observable and recognizable patterns in nature from an epistemological perspective. Knowing can and does take place of systems and meta-systems through observation of “patterns that connect”.

This video below shows a graphic comic artist demonstrating automatic drawing. I learned to do this in the late sixties when I was studying art. Although the artist says, “let your brain” do the work, I actually experience it as letting my body/mind do the drawing while suspending any conscious, deliberate attention. (I imagined that the energy for the movement of the drawing come directly from my heart through my arm, bypassing my head. I felt like an observer to my own drawing process.) While following along as an observer I was always surprised at what emerged. At some point late in the process I would notice an object emerging from the markings. At this point I would redirect my attention and apply deliberate action to bringing out the newly discovered object. This process of automatic drawing has been very rewarding, both as a meditative process and a way to discover new images heretofore hidden below my conscious awareness.

www.youtube.com/watch

 

Here is a very good article on creative flow from an angle from which you may not be aware. Enjoy.

 

How to Unleash the Great Perfection of Creativity

By Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

From Lion’s Roar; Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time, July 2, 2017

Informed by the profound teachings of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal tells us how to unleash powerful creative energy we can use anywhere, from the office to the art studio.

Photo by Jennifer Pack.

READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY HERE.

 

 

 

Glaser draws and talks

In the short video below by C. McCoy via Vimeo, Milton Glaser talks about the importance of drawing- while drawing, of course! 

 
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6986303&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

MILTON GLASER DRAWS & LECTURES from C. Coy on Vimeo.

Fellini’s Imagination

October 24, 2009

Fellini sketch 

"For me the world of my imagination is always closer to the truth than is the truth." 

"If I wander around the world looking at things, it is only to reassure myself that the world I have invented is true."

Frederico Fellini (1920-1993)


Every issue of Life Magazine until the end of 1972 is available on Google Books for free. I did a search there for imagination and found this entry: From the July 30, 1971 issue of Life is an article by Dora Jane Hamblin on Frederico Fellini , the great Italian movie director. This piece is about the creation of his made-for-tv film, The Clowns. If you are familiar with his films you know how imaginative they are- perhaps some of the best examples of imagination in filmmaking. The Life magazine article has sketches made by Fellini as studies for this film.

Apparently, Fellini was greatly influenced the Jungian analyst Dr. Ernst Bernhard and by the autobiography of Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. It seems that some of Jung's ideas influenced some of his important films– 81/2 (1963), Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Satyricon (1969), Casanova (1976), and City of Women (1980).