LET’S MAKE THIS AN EXPLORATION of the landscapes of creativity — how does the creative experience feel to you?
Mentally, I’m all about visualization: perhaps it’s synesthesia, but even smells and sounds have a visual component for me. So I’ve always seen “the creative process” as starting with a curtain across half the universe. Every now and then, the curtain parts just enough to reveal an Idea.
It could be a series of images, even images of words. Now and then it’s a sound. But even the most abstract Idea carries a visual impression of girders and joists, ropes and scrim. Sometimes an Idea will be revealed a piece at a time, with a whole clicking into place almost audibly and palpably. If it’s long, like a story, it feels like a rope uncoiling from the other side of the curtain — a line which must not be allowed to grow slack.
Sometimes an Idea links up with something inside the rest of the universe. Other times it just sits there, gleaming, faintly pulsing, daring me to capture it in words on a screen or a sketch in a notebook. (If I don’t, it can fade within minutes.)
So let’s make this an exploration of the sense-scapes of creativity. How does the creative experience feel to you?
EVIDENTLY, SHE WROTE A POEM in 1928 called “Dirge With Music.” I have not yet read any of her other works, but I hope they’re like this one. The last stanza says it all:
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
(Thanks to Rabbi David Wolpe for the quotation.)
THE FIRST BOOK I EVER read about the Internet, in 1994, still gives me a wave of nostalgic novelty when I turn its pages now. The ‘Net was new in the public mind and not well understood back then, which is why books like 1992′s ZATAOTI were popular: it’s a beginner’s guide to all things then-Internet, from email to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
These days, you just Google to find anything. But before Google (and before the World Wide Web) were Usenet and FTP, telnet and Gopher. You sort of had to know your way around in order to find anything. ZATAOTI’s 95 pages helped make the learning curve less steep for millions of people by helping them to think clearly and concisely about this strange new technology.
The composition of this booklet was originally started because the Computer Science department at Widener University was in desperate need of documentation describing the capabilities of this “great new Internet link” we obtained.
It’s since grown into an effort to acquaint the reader with much of what’s currently available over the Internet. Aimed at the novice user, it attempts to remain operating system “neutral”—-little information herein is specific to Unix, VMS, or any other environment. This booklet will, hopefully, be usable by nearly anyone.
DESPITE ITS HELIOSHEATH-BREAKING ACCOMPLISHMENTS, or perhaps because of them, I can’t help but regret, just a little, that there’s no “NCC-1701” decal on Voyager 1.
But at least there’s Beethoven. That almost makes up for it.
THE WORLD LOOKS A LITTLE more friendly with something fragrant bubbling on the stove.
PROLONGING THE GOD EXPERIENCE INTO every waking moment. (All else — songs, prayers, chants, acts, texts, charity, incense, beads, building fund — is just stage direction. Which is not to dismiss the stage direction, since that’s one of the keys to the Experience. But the key isn’t the lock, and what you really want anyway is to open.)
“WORKERS OF THE WORLD, RELAX.”
(And for everyone else: who made your stuff? Who brought or sold it to you? Are you grateful? Then thank a worker. They seem to be an endangered species.)
SO NASA HAS JUST RELEASED a nifty web application that lets you whiz about the solar system in real time and swoop in next to planets and satellites and space probes to see what they’re doing (or at least what the programmers know that the scientists know that they’re doing). It’s called, appropriately, “Eyes On The Solar System” and if you don’t click on http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eyes/ RIGHT NOW and try it boy will YOU be sorry. (Between this, Google Earth and Minecraft, the inner and outer worlds should mesh any day now.)
“THIS MAY OR MAY NOT be a good time to start things, but it’s a great time to continue ‘em.”
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EVEN IF THERE’S LITTLE TO read — sometimes, especially if there’s little to read — nothing beats sharing an early morning newspaper with someone you love.
“What does that song mean?” I asked Ernie once about a particular song.
He thought for a bit and then replied that if I wanted to know what the words meant, he’d be glad to translate them for me. But if I was asking what the song meant, that was different. A song, he explained, carries much more meaning than just its words. For him, for example, a large part of a song’s meaning is about who first taught it to him — a relative? an elder? a friend? What instructions were given with that teaching? Can it be sung in the daytime or only at night? Can it be sung only at one particular season? Is it a public song or private? Can women sing it or only men? Is it spiritual or ‘just for fun?’ Are there dietary or behavioral restrictions placed upon the singer as he prepares to perform? Each time a song is sung, he went on to explain, it accumulates further meaning — from the people he is singing it with, the audience he is singing it to, the circumstances under which it is sung. If a song is brought out at a funeral, for example, the funeral lends a weight and history to the song that is felt each time it is subsequently sung. Even my own curiosity about the song, he smiled, adds to its meaning.
– Malcolm Margolin, The Ohlone Way
(And yes, I excerpted this Friday, but it’s quite too good not to share in full.)
HAD I NOT BEEN SWIFT,
He would have brought the rat in.
It’s the thought that counts.