Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Creative Act


After he and Clare had dinner with us one night, Farley Mowat started telling me how his writing was going. He was in fact quite disappointed at how little he'd accomplished that day. We talked on for a while and then I took the opportunity to ask him if he had any thoughts on, or had ever written about the creative process.

His voice took on a serious tone, “What do you mean?”

"Well," I said," I've always been very interested in understanding where inspiration comes from and how creative ideas are formed. I remember enjoying reading Arthur Koestler’s book, The Creative Act a long time ago, and since then I’ve often found myself trying to analyze — as he did in his book — what happens, what goes on, when a writer, composer or artist is being inspired creatively ”.

Farley looked visibly alarmed and said in a disapproving way, “I never think about that at all, and neither should you. I don’t try to analyze where creativity comes from or ever try to look over my own shoulder when I’m writing".

He spoke as if he thought that to venture there was somehow entering forbidden territory. “

Anyway,” he argued, “ it's nonsense to try to understand that sort of thing. It's like trying to see beyond the grave or foretell the future. "

"On the contrary, I think it's more like trying to explore in the opposite direction." I said. "It's more a kind of peering into the source of life, a looking beyond one's beginnings, into our origins as human beings, and not just know that creativity is fundamental to who we are, but try to begin to recognize how it comes to us, and where it comes from."

"You're crazy." he said. "I'd leave that stuff alone. "

7 comments:

  1. I'm with Farley, The creative process really happens when you DON'T think about it.

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    1. But now and then it also happens when I do !

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  2. Sorry John, I have to agree with Farley and Karl. My best work is when I'm not thinking, just doing.

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    1. For sure. But that doesn't answer my question about where creativity comes from.

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    2. Don't try to analyse where it comes from. The effectiveness of the outcome depends on how prepared you are to see the opportunity. Trying to define it is like grabbing at smoke.

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  3. As a creative musician, I often face huge edifices of human creativity, works so incredibly rich and complex that it takes a lot of work to even start gaining something like insight into them. But I never revere the work in itself - what interests me most is the creative process behind it. A famous jazz pianist went as far as saying the notes he plays are merely the excrement of the creative process, and I think that is an apt metaphor - when I'm out in the wild and find a pile of elephant dung I can analyze it to see what went into it and make conclusions about its creator, but then I want to move on and maybe - hopefully - catch a glimpse of that magnificent being with my own eyes.
    As for my own creative process, I never lose time on analyzing it, because I'm usually way too pressed for time - there are always rehearsals coming up, filled with musicians hungry for material. I just know that I have to be on "receive mode" permanently - there's no telling when some tiny spark of imagination sleeting through the universe will cross my cranium.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Johan. I think I'd like to see a bit more of the Elephant too!

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