The first thing I read in my inbox this
morning was a lovely quote from Storypeople:
Leaves of Music
"She seemed to move
everywhere dancing &
music followed her like
leaves on the wind."
The next one was serendipitously related. There's
something here for me.I recognized the need
for a brain "zap" in regards to my art.
Robert Genn sends out a bi-weekly newsletter
for those that sign up. Here is today's gem:
You are the music
October 30, 2007
Neurologist Oliver Sacks's latest book, "Tales of Music
and the Brain," tells of various cranial disorders
that have led tomusical sensitivity and ability.
For example, hit by lightning,a man suddenly begins
to compose and conduct music. Thisreminded me of
the vacationing Augustus John, a mediocre art
student at age 19, diving into the sea at Tenby,
Wales, hitting his head on an underwater rock and
emerging a celebrated genius. The blow did considerable
damage, forced him to take the year 1897 for recovery,
and created a before-and-after scenario that everyone noticed.
Naturally, I've always wondered if this sort of effect
might be artificially produced--some simple clunk to the
head or laying on of hands that hot-wires
candidates to creative success.
Many of us thrive on combinations of strong desire
and relentless application. While relatively slow-going,
this has been the traditional and sensible route toward
creative evolution. Natural genius may speed things up.
But you may have noticed that natural geniuses sometimes
don't go far. They too may need a lightning strike to
fully manifest. An epiphany, a door suddenly closed,
or perhaps some form of hysteria--self-generated
or inflicted from without--might just
be the catalyst.
In "Four Quartets," T.S. Elliot writes,
"You are the music; while the music lasts."
One has insights, makes progress and
gets results only while the music is being made.
And this goes for easel time too. Elliot's poem
suggests the special state required for the creative act.
Concepts like "flow" involve being one with the
activity--a kind of psychic space unlike
The idea of bold, frenetic, compulsive or obsessive
action as the great begetter of art is at the core
of this sort of thinking. "Boldness has genius,
power and magic," said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
"Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin,
and the work will be completed." Goethe was no
stranger to unkindly blows, either. Funnily,
or perhaps not funnily, the hindrances to bold
action line up like the deadly sins--laziness,
sloth, indifference, boredom, etc. Getting hit
on the head may be the blessed event that invites
creative being and acting. We are tasered--and
our work continues to taser us. Stunned, we stay
on the job. Sensitized and electrified, we make
gains by simply doing it. There are worse
things that can happen to people.
PS: "I have often seen quite demented patients
recognize and respond vividly to paintings and
delight in the act of painting at a time when
they are scarcely responsive, disoriented, and
out of it." (Oliver Sacks)
Esoterica: Strict instructions to wannabe
artists don't always work. Directions like
"go to your room and work five hours a
day and produce 30 finished works a month"
can trigger the old self-sabotage response.
There's something else. Somehow the
neural tissue needs to be realigned so
the artist sets a new course of his own volition.
In my observation, it's a self-anointed,
narcissistic ego-force that awakens the mad
mentor within. Artist, zap thyself.
Self anointed. Autodidacts. Ego-force.
Yes, there is something truly magical about just doing,
deciding a thing is worth your time and then taking
steps toward it. So simple, yet it
slips through our fingers so easily.
I hear so many people in society saying things like
"I wish ________" fill in the blank with whatever
thing they long for that they've decided is not
in the stars for them. Or that famous "If__________"
fill in the blank again with the excuse about why
they can't do something they long to do.
We choose. We choose with our life and if the life we
have isn't what we want, it was simply a series of
choices that led us to the life we don't want. So make
Different choices look small. They look like unimportant
things we do each and every day. They look like meals
and who we are with and what we choose to give our energy to
and ways we respond to stimulus. It looks like very small
stuff indeed. But in those small choices we build a life.
I believe in building a life worth living.