Friday, April 9, 2010

The Big Stuff: Reconciling Artistic Irrationality

I'm going to try and tie together a few "big ideas" for your consideration. This exercise unfortunately requires about 40 minutes of your time, but I think I can guarantee you'll come away with your brain on fire, creatively speaking.

Let's start with Merlin Mann's talk about The Fear of Sucking.
The Sound of Young America

(forward to 4 minutes or so to hear it begin) Merlin mentions an inner voice that is this kind of fatalistic limiter. It tells you, among other things, that whatever you're doing has to be EPIC from the get go, and if you feel that you're sucking at it (inevitable), you have to get used to the idea that you're going to suck at something for a very long time before you're genuinely good at it.

Maybe a really long ten thousand hours (hat tip: Malcolm Gladwell).

Now that we've considered both an irrational fear of sucking or being outed as a fake (internalized doubt/anger) AND the idea that it takes thousands and thousands of hours of work to actually begin to NOT suck at something, let us now consider an alternative viewpoint:

That's Elizabeth Gilbert discussing creativity at TED. There is a moment (around 10:00) when she specifically refers to a poet's relationship with her muse, discussed in some kind of metaphysical language. The concept that an *idea* is a physical force that is seeking a fertile territory is an interesting one, if we now take into consideration this next presentation by Susan Blackmore, who discusses memes from the perspective of biological evolution:

And now, The Big Idea:

Creativity is really a form of reception, and everyone is quite capable. It's the continuing practice, the religion if you will, of connecting and expressing that begins to separate the common and the extraordinary. As creatives, there's little we can do immediately to deal with the cultural frameworks that imbue us with full responsibility for what random inspirations we pull from the universe, but the very act of considering this possibility is a first step at changing it.

If this idea is any good, it will catch like the flu.


Mike Parks said...

Nice tie-together, especially the last two. To me the combination of all three gives credence to the instruction, "Put it out there". Don't be afraid to be creative. Don't be afraid to be expressive. Don't be afraid to be original. Don't be afraid to build upon that which has come before. (The last two are not contradictory.) Only the bold and imaginative change things... and luckily we are all capable of boldness and imagination.

Jeremiah said...

Cool. I was trying to illuminate the fear in which all the associated doubts are sown. Yes, we're all capable.