Spotted by Sandy on Facebook...
Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity | Video on TED.com:
'via Blog this'
I haven't read Eat, Pray, Love, or seen the movie, and I do not plan to. In many ways, the little I know about this story makes me want to eat a bullet, regurgitate it, shoot a few people with it, and then eat it for a final time...
Yeah, an upper middle class whatever having an identity crisis who travels and happens to find themselves in foreign lands and lovers... Damn, sign me up for some of that style of angst. Maybe I have it wrong. I am guilty of contempt prior to investigation on this one.
But her talk is very, very good. Yes, it is the person who wrote the book I hate (only on principal), and that attitude I hate comes across in the talk from time to time, but I do think she nails this talk.
I very much relate to the ideas of the muse as she discusses them, of attributing our creativity to an outside source, to an outside spirit "daemon" or "genius." She mentions that spooky feeling a lot of writers, musicians, and other artists and performers get when they are working, the feeling that the words and music and ideas and whatever else applies seem to be coming from a place outside of themselves... Many authors have written many books subtly and not so subtly (Stephen King's The Dark Half) exploring this phenomenon.
And I think she is absolutely correct in her hypothesis that the loss of the idea of the outside muse has been putting pressures on many artists that have been making them miserable and, quite literally, killing them young for the last 500 years... The 27 Club and all that.
I like how she meekly proposes returning to the old ideas about the outside "genius" being the source of creativity, though she fears that it would be a hard sell to rational minds, returning to the idea that our creativity was "basically fairies who follow people around rubbing fairy juice on their projects and stuff."
For me, it is much more simple, it just comes from God. Not to much of a hard sell to the masses with that concept, either.
This is particularly easy for me to remember and comprehend these days since most of my creative work this year has been nature photography. I just point the camera at something that I know I did not create and hope for the best. Sure, I decide a few things about how to set up the shot, but really, it is pretty hard to take bad photos of most of my subjects. In fact, when taking my photos, I worry a lot less about how to take a good picture and a lot more about how not to mess it up.
She sums it all up perfectly, calling those rare, wonderful, uncanny moments of pure genius and inspiration what I firmly believe them to truly be, and that is nothing more or less than a fleeting "a glimpse of God" him, her, or itself.
There is more here worth watching... This one is worth a look, in spite of the speaker's resume.
If you doubt, the quote in the title is from Tom Waits and an interview she had with him where he discussed how he, finally, came to deal with the pressures of his muse. That bit of the talk is priceless. Come back later, he told the idea in his head, "Otherwise go bother someone else today. Go bother Leonard Cohen."
This shorter talk is pretty good too, if you have a few more minutes to spare... The speaker is pretty annoying, but her art is actually fascinating.